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July 14, 2015

‘Right to know brings transparency to governance system’


July 14, 2015

Article 19(A) of the constitution had empowered the citizens to a greater degree for transparency and accountability of the government and it can be compared to sunlight that was the best disinfectant.
Raza Ali Gardezi, project manager of the CVP Shehri-CBE, said this while describing the efficacy of freedom of information (FOI) at a workshop held on Monday.
Shehri arranged the capacity-building session under the banner of “Citizens’ Voice for Strengthening Transparency and Accountability Mechanisms.”
He informed the participants about the FOI legislations that comprise laws guaranteeing access to data held by the state and their status at the national, provincial and local levels. Dr Gardezi explained about the applicability of the ordinance in terms of which type of state institutions can be asked to share data and what type of information can be accessed and what type of information and record was exempt from disclosure.
He explained in detail the ‘process’ of ‘invoking’ the FOI ordinance and said that when asked the governmental department concerned was bound to provide the information within 21 days.
General Secretary Shehri-CBE Amber Ali Bhai welcomed the participants and introduced the aims and objectives of the workshop.
She highlighted the active role the Shehri has played in trying to facilitate good governance by advocating transparency in government functioning, and an informed and pro-active role of the citizenry in seeking protection of their fundamental rights as enshrined in the constitution and legislations of all state institutions.
Saima Adeel from the NGO explained guidelines for making an FOI Application, outlining the salient features of writing an application and also informed the participants about the experience of Shehri in invoking the FOI Act in terms of applications filed and results achieved.
A documentary on FOI was shown to the participants as access to information in

matters of public importance is their “Right to know.”
An interactive question-answers session with the participants on FOI and filing requests on subjects of their interest was conducted at the end and they realized that enforcement of Article 19-A is essential to bring transparency in governance system.
The participants asked different questions regarding the FOI and understood that effective functioning of democracy depended on participation of citizens who were well informed.

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