MINGORA: Provincial minister for information Shaukat Ali Yousafzai said here on Wednesday that access to information was the basic right of every person and only well-informed citizens could effectively contribute to a strong democracy in the country.

He was speaking as chief guest at a function regarding the extension of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Right to Information Act 2013 to Malakand division and the merged tribal districts. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa RTI chief commissioner Azmat Hanif Orakzai, ADC Swat, officials of line departments, lawyers and civil society members were in attendance.

The minister said that it was another landmark decision of the PTI government to extend the RTI law to Malakand division and the newly-merged tribal districts in the province.

“We want every citizen to be fully aware of the activities, funds and other information about the government departments. The RTI Act will benefit every citizen having correct information,” he said and added that it was the responsibility of every citizen to get benefit of it and if people strengthened the RTI law there would be no need of the action of NAB and anti-corruption departments.

He said that collective measures must be taken to make the country developed by introducing transparent and accountable system.

Mr Orakzai briefed the gathering about the procedure of RTI law and said it was the constitutional right of every citizen to have access to information.

“A citizen seeking information about a department can submit an application on a paper to the public information officer of the relevant department who will provide the information in 10 to 20 days,” he said.

He said that if the PIO did not provide the required information the citizen could lodge a complaint to the RTI Commission which would take legal action against the officer. “Every government department must provide the information on request,” he said.

Published in Dawn, July 18th, 2019

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