Current AffairsRight to Information

PM, CMs’ Offices Take Shelter Of National Security To Hide Information

ISLAMABAD: The ruling party Pakistan Tahreek-e-Insaf (PTI) always claiming of accountability and transparency in government departments at both federal and provincial level by introducing Right to Information laws, but cases pending in the commissions tells different story.

The public bodies always take shelter of section of third party and national security while denying sharing information especially related to high officials, bureaucrats and influential politicians.

In January last, this scribe sought details of Prime Minister Imran Khan and Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar’s use of helicopter and details such as total number of flights since the assumption of public offices.

This scribe sought this information from the Cabinet Division, Islamabad and Services and General Administration Department of Punjab.

However, the Cabinet Division, Islamabad and Services and General Administration Department of Punjab did not respond to the information request.

The cabinet division was also requested to share similar information about the helicopter use by the then Prime Ministers Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Mian Nawaz Sharif during their tenure.

After that, the appellant approached to commission. The Pakistan Information Commission (PIC) on the appeal of this scribe, issued notice to the Cabinet Division. However, the Cabinet Division took the shelter of information and claimed that the requested information cannot be shared under Sub-Section 7 (e) of the Right of Access to Information Act, 2017 and denied to share information.

The Section 7 (e) of the Right of Access to Information Act, 2017 states that record relating to defence forces, defence installations or connected therewith and ancillary to defence and national security excluding all commercial and welfare activities; are excluded from the disclosure.

The PIC will not decide the matter as per law.

Similar information request seeking the details of the helicopter use by the Chief Minister (CM) Punjab Usman Buzdar, CM Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Mehmood Khan and CM Sindh Murad Ali Shah was also filed to the concern public bodies by this scribe but no one has shared the information yet.

The Services and General Administration Department Punjab also in its letter dated April 24, 2020 claimed that the request information is restricted under Section 13 of the Punjab Transparency and Right to Information Act 2013, hence it can not be shared with the public.

The complaint against the S&GA department Punjab is also pending before the Punjab Information Commission which supposed to decide the matter within 60 days.

While the Administration Department Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Chief Minister Secretariat Sindh do not bother to respond the information requests.

The Complaint against Administration department Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Chief Minister Secretariat Sindh are also pending before the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Right to Information Commission (KP-RTI Commission) and Sindh Information Commission since December, 2019 but no development has been made till date.

It is pertinent to mentioned that the Information Commissions are bound to decide the appeals within 60 working days but not a single of them have decided the appeal against the high ups within stipulated time.

According to Section 23 (3) of the KP RTI Act 2013, the Information Commission shall decide any complaint within a period of sixty (60) days.

PTI including Prime Minister Imran Khan often takes the credit of making KP RTI Commission functional in 2013 with the passage of the time the commission has also became a traditional government department where files are put on the table for long.

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