APNS for promulgation of Freedom of Info Ord -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

APNS for promulgation of Freedom of Info Ord

KARACHI- The All Pakistan Newspaper Society (APNS) strongly protests the exclusion of Freedom of Information Ordinance from the package of Press Laws being promulgated by the Federal Government, stated the APNS spokesman.

The President APNS Hameed Haroon in a Press statement welcomed the announcement by the Federal Secretary Information Anwer Mahmood that the Federal Government intends to issue laws relating to Registration of Press and formation of Press Council but noted that despite a clear previous agreement, the Federal Secretary has not mentioned the promulgation of Freedom of Information law. The newspaper industry as well as the public at large as a rude shock has taken this announcement and it is felt that the government is dragging out its feet from the assurances given to the Press and the people of Pakistan. The draft of the Freedom of Information Act was provided by the APNS and Council of Pakistan Newspapers Editors (CPNE) to the Ministry, but earlier, formulations by the government of this draft law were not found to be acceptable as per the norms of progressive Press freedoms.

The APNS protested earlier this year, when it discovered that the Freedom of Information Act had been relegated to the National Bureau of Reconstruction under a retired General, who has so far refused to initiate a contact with the APNS and other Press bodies on the issue. The resulting situation has led to putting this important law, which is a central plank of both APNS and CPNE policy into cold storage. As a result, the very foundation of Press freedom and of Article 19 of the Constitution, which guarantees the freedom of Press and freedom of information, are being grossly undermined in the process of nation building.

It is absurd to believe that a responsible free Press can exist without accurate and timely information, which leads to the creation of informed public opinion. By blocking the access to information, the government thus, whether consciously or not, is rendering ineffective the apparatus of Press freedom, which depends on the free flow of information. This proposed act does not endanger national security or official secrets likely to damage the formation of strategic security policies in Pakistan. It merely seems to cost a harsh and informed spotlight on the day-to-day activities of government, which constitute 90 per cent of decisions made and certainly some of their deepest follies. It is time for President, General Musharraf to act now to fulfill the unfinished agenda of the promises made in this respect upon his takeover and instruct the Information and Law Ministries to promulgate the freedom of information law along with the proposed laws.

Source: The Nation