Right to Know

RTI activists ask for more effective laws to ensure transparency

The journalists have different opinion of using the right to information laws in Pakistan as some are terming it as wastage of time while some are considered as great tool for getting information.

Media Matters for Democracy – a non-government organization working for transparency and media development – on twitter put a question that do you see the local Right to Information (RTI) laws as important for public access to data? Have you faced any issues with using the RTI laws?

The social activists and journalists especially shared their experience of practicing RTI laws.

Khalied Khattak, senior journalist and running a data stories website replied that RTI/FOI laws are powerful tools for journalists to get information easily. Sadly, most journalists in Pakistan are unaware of the existence and potential of the laws, which otherwise can help them do impactful journalism. For me, so far it has been a mixed experience to use the RTI laws.

As these make access to #information easy. For journalists there is a story either way whethr they get or don’t get info using these laws. Sadly, most journalists in Pakistan are unaware of the existence and potential of the laws, which otherwise can help them do impactful journalism. For me, so far it has been a mixed experience to use the RTI laws. While I was able to get information, through most of my RTI requests in past years, none of my requests filed in January this year have been entertained by some public bodies across #Pakistan and I’ve filed complaints with the relevant Information Commissions. The one issue I have faced so far is related to delays in the provision of information. I hope to get the information this time as well.


Mahim Maher @Mahim_Maher – Editor Digital at Samaa TV – tweeted, RTI is very powerful but not enough journos use it. It feels complicated. Also, newsrooms don’t encourage that kind of long patient reporting, esp in TV.

Amel Ghani @AmelGhanii – stated, Yeah for sure it’s an important tool for public access to data. As a Journalist I’ve always tried to get data from my sources before I use RTI though because the process is slow and you often don’t have that kind of time.

It’s also a good place to fish for stories. You can RTI for certain datasets and see if something interesting turns up.

Maleeha Hamid Siddiqui @siddiquimaleeha – wrote, My research showed that authorities were slow to respond to RTI requests made by Pakistani journalists. Primarily because internal communication system within govt depts which need to be streamlined to respond promptly to info requests.

Waqas Naeem @_vics_ – Program Manager at MMfD- tweeted,Some of the themes we noticed in the feedback and reactions from reporters is Perception that data will be old and not newsworthy and General distrust of govt figures.

Oonib Azam @OonibAzam_ – argued that the government officials simply don’t have the
capability of understanding your queries and giving you the exact data you’ve asked for.
Data obtained under RTI in Sindh will most likely be flawed.

Zahid Abdullah – Information Commission at Pakistan Information Commission – replied
to Oonib Azam and stated that Public bodies are bound to provide a certificate testifying that information being provided is correct and that copy of the record is true copy.


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