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PESHAWAR: The civil society activists on Thursday called for the effective implementation of the law on right to information to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

The call was given during a consultative session arranged by the Cylax Foundation and Civil Society Alliance on SDGs.

The event was attended by the representatives of civil society organisations, academics, journalists and government officials, who discussed public access to information and protection of fundamental freedoms.

Civil society activist stresses need for bridging gaps in SDGs implementation

KP chief information commissioner Azmat Hanif Orakzai briefed participants about the working of the KP Right to Information Commission.

He said though the SDGs were announced in 2016, the provincial government began implementing them in 2013 by enacting the country’s right to information law.

Mr Orakzai said the other provinces followed in the footsteps of KP in that respect.

He said the ‘culture of secrecy’ left behind by the British rulers was a big hurdle to the complete implementation of the RTI law but the commission was trying to create awareness among public information officers to enable them to work fearlessly.

The chief information commissioner said the commission had so far notified around 600 notified PIOs all over the province, while over 2,500 village council secretaries had also been declared PIOs.

He said the RTI Commission had so far received 11,800 public requests for information and of them, 7,000 applicants were provided with information, while 4,700 people complained about denial of information.

Mr Orakzai said the commission had decided most of the complaints and only around 367 complaints were under process.

“We are focusing on the training of PIOs. Until now, PIOs of six districts have undergone training sessions,” he said.

He said the commission was also working on the pilot ERTI system in Nowshera district with the help of GIZ.

Calyax Foundation programme manager Asif Faruqi said CAS-SDG was a collective effort of around 16 national civil society organisations and that it focused on democracy and human rights.

He said Pakistan failed to achieve the Millennium Development Goals but currently, both federal and provincial governments were working to achieve SDGs.

Mr Faruqi said the SDG cells were operational at the Prime Minister’s House and Planning Commission, while a task force worked under the supervision of the National Assembly’s speaker.

He said task forces were also operational at the provincial level. He said the civil society had an important role to play in identifying and bridging gaps in the implementation of SDGs.

Published in Dawn, June 8th, 2018