PESHAWAR: Representatives of minority organisations on Saturday held a rally against the recent restriction on the right to information and warned they would agitate if the government didn’t withdraw orders for its ministries and divisions to block information in the name of public interest.

Holding banners and placards and shouting slogans outside the Peshawar Press Club here, protesters demanded the immediate withdrawal of restrictions on the RTI.

All Pakistan Hindu Rights Movement chairman Haroon Sarab Diyal along with Shaukat Ghulam Advocate and Baba G Gurpal Singh told reporters that the restriction on information were meant to hide the government’s inefficiency and poor policies from the public eye.

They said the government’s directives to its ministries on the RTI were detrimental to the people’s rights of services, social accountability and public participation in the government matters and would adversely affect minorities and their civic and political rights.

The speakers said under Article 19-A of the Constitution, the people had the right to have access to information and the restriction was against the law.

They demanded the immediate withdrawal of the orders blocking the freedom of expression.

The speakers asked how the people would make efforts for their rights when the government was reluctant to share with them the information about appointments on minority quota and properties.

They said like majority, minorities too were Pakistanis and therefore, they could claim rights given in the Constitution.

The speakers said Islam had fully protected rights of minorities but the successive governments kept minorities in the dark about it and didn’t fulfil their responsibilities about it.

“We will have to begin nationwide agitation if restriction on the RTI is not withdrawn,” a speaker warned.

The speakers appreciated the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government for legislating on the right to information and said people could easily get the sought-after information within the desirable time.

They said the law on the RTI was an easy way for members of minorities to get information about their properties, funds, and plans for their welfare.

Published in Dawn, October 11th, 2015

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