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PESHAWAR: Speakers at a consultative workshop have said that the government should implement the Right to Information (RTI) Act and ensure that the public information officers extend full cooperation to public in provision of the required information within the shortest possible time.

The ‘one-day consultative workshop on the implementation of RTI Act, 2013’ was held at Peshawar Press Club here on Friday. Government officials and members of civil society organisations participated in the workshop.

Chief Information Commissioner of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa RTI Commission Sahibzada Mohmmad Khalid said on the occasion that the public information officers (PIOs) in various provincial government departments could be criticised by public if they failed to respond to requests for information appropriately under the law.

“For this purpose, the PIOs’ acquaintance with the RTI law is must for successful implementation of the law,” he said.


Experts say people must be swiftly provided needed information


Mr Khalid said that the civil society had also to play an important role with regard to successful implementation of the law.

He appreciated the provincial lawmakers for their efforts in bringing this law for ensuring better governance in the province under which citizens could access information they required.

He said that the RTI commission arranged training workshops in various districts to create awareness of the law among the PIOs.

He said that more training workshops for them would be held in June at the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Judicial Academy.

Information Commissioner RTI Abdul Matin informed the participants of jurisdiction of the law extended to various government departments in the province. “On furnishing of any wrong information the officials can face both legal and disciplinary action under the RTI law,” he said.

Another Information Commissioner RTI Kalimullah said that the commission was committed to implementing the law. He asked the participants to come up with suggestions to give the law the real ownership sense among public.

Earlier, Umar Khan, PCNA KP coordinator said that the civil society was mediator and facilitator and had a role in this regard to help create the desired response mechanism among public for successful implementation of the law.

Center for Governance and Public Accountability executive director Mohammad Anwar said that PIOs were at the centre stage and their role would be important.

The Coalition on Right to Information coordinator Zahid Abdullah gave several suggestions, including working on the proactive disclosure of information by government departments and a monitoring and evaluation system to keep check on the PIOs and government departments as to what they were doing under the obligations placed on them by RTI law.

Natalia Tariq from Open Society Foundation, Pakistan, called for proper management of records by public bodies so that people could get access to information in a convenient way.

Other participants, including Shahidullah Jan from HRCP, Khyber Union of Journalists president Nisar Mehmud, journalist Iqbal Khattak and others highlighted the efforts needed for successful implementation of the RTI law.

Published in Dawn, May 31th, 2014