Right to Information

Ministry of Foreign Affairs Imposes Restrictions on Information Requests

Islamabad: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) has recently announced new restrictions on citizens filing information requests, sparking controversy and condemnation from civil society activists.

According to the latest directives issued by MOFA on its website, citizens are now required to submit information requests on a stamp paper worth PKR 100. Additionally, the requests must be formally sent on a prescribed form, which can be obtained from the ministry’s website. The original form is to be sent by post, accompanied by an advance copy via email to the Assistant Director (Spokesperson’s Office).

Moreover, MOFA has imposed limitations on the number of questions permissible in each request, stating that no more than five questions can be included. Any additional questions will be treated as separate requests.

Once the request is acknowledged by the ministry, applicants are instructed to pay Rs. 500 as a prescribed fee at any branch of the National Bank of Pakistan. The original copy of the paid challan, along with a copy of the application form, must then be sent by post, again with advance copies via email to the Assistant Director (Spokesperson’s Office).

These restrictions imposed by MOFA have been met with criticism, with civil society activists condemning the move as a violation of citizens’ rights. They argue that these restrictions contradict Section 4 of the Right of Access to Information Rules, 2019, which allows citizens to apply for information using plain paper or a prescribed application form.

Demanding action from the Pakistan Information Commission, activists have called for the removal of these unlawful restrictions, emphasizing the importance of upholding citizens’ right to access information.

Saddia Mazhar

Saddia Mazhar, an accomplished Investigative Journalist hailing from District Sahiwal, Punjab, possesses a fervor for unveiling impactful narratives. With a demonstrated history of hosting radio shows, web TV programs, contributing to esteemed publications, and steering digital media platforms, she stands as a notable figure in the field. Connect with her on Twitter @SaddiaMazhar. She can be contacted at thesaddia@gmail.com
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