Right to information
RECENTLY, I attended a workshop organised by Shehri, a Karachi-based NGO. The workshop was about the ‘Right to Information and Freedom of Information’ .
We were informed that a common citizen is empowered to access all information held by the government (except for the sensitive one) through Article 19A of the Constitution of Pakistan.
The workshop was meant to help participants on how effectively to use the law.
Simple forms are available (Shehri Website http://www.shehri.org) where a person asks for a particular information or data and submits it to the relevant government department after payment of official fees of Rs50 on a charge sheet in the name of the State Bank of Pakistan or the National Bank of Pakistan.
The department concerned is bound to divulge the required information within 21 days.
On not receiving a satisfactory reply, the citizen has the official right to approach the ombudsman which is like a court of law. The information received can also be used for litigations etc.
We, as taxpayers, have a ‘right to know, monitor and evaluate’ how our tax money is used and how and why a particular decision is arrived at.
The bureaucracy is bound to allow us access to such data held by the government.
The workshop was very-well conducted. The efforts of Shehri are commendable.