Senator Babar terms RTI law a step forward for accountable governance

ISLAMABAD: Right to Information (RTI) Act will be significant step forward towards transparent and accountable governance. However, to reap the real dividends of the law for the people of Pakistan, change in the mindset at every level would play crucial role so that the culture of openness could replace the culture of secretiveness and a general trend of shying away from taking responsibility and being accountable.

Farhatullah Babar, Senator Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) said this while speaking at seminar ‘Right to information-A step forward for better governance’, at Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) here on Monday.

Senator Farhatullah Babar added further that we must remain vigilant about the fact that some elements would continue resisting this progressive development and would make every effort to revoke it. He said that the new law did not offer blanket exemptions on the name of national security and every effort was made to strike balance in present RTI bill between national security and public interest.

Zafarullah Khan, Executive Director Pakistan Institute of Parliamentary Services (PIPS) earlier highlighted the painstaking process that led to this law over the years and said that it was first such law that was let by parliament and has been finalized with the consensus of all major political parties. He said there were a number of areas that could be improved or amend later but to start with, the passage of the law from the parliament should be taken as huge step forward.

He said that for the success implementation on law, all the officers from government ministries and line departments should be made aware of the processes and procedures involved and their respective duties in this regard. Besides, he said, it would be imperative to translate the law in Urdu and regional languages.

M. Ziauddin, senior journalist and analyst, on the occasion termed awareness a key factor for the successful implementation on Right to Information law. He said that unfortunately, we do not have a culture of asking questions to reach at clarity on any issue. Therefore, media and civil society would have important role to play in making this law successful whereas media houses should come forward and arrange specific training for their reporters so that they could use this law to obtain information and to serve the public interest effectively, he concluded.