ISLAMABAD- Right To Information (RTI) is the constitutional right of every citizen of the country, now is the time to say goodbye to overpowering culture of secrecy in Pakistan and embrace whole heartedly people’s right to know. Information is power and denial of the information is the denial of the basic democratic rights of the people.
This was said by the speakers of the conference jointly organized by Centre for Peace and Development Initiative (CPDI) and Press Council of Pakistan (PCP) to mark world press freedom day where Federal Minister for Petroleum and Natural Heritage Mr. Shahid Khaqan Abbasi chaired the session, whereas Mr. Shafqat Mahmood Abbasi Chairman PCP, President CPNE Mujeeb Ur Rehman Shami, Senator Farhatullah Babar, Chief Election Commissioner Sahibzada Muhammad Khalid, Federal Secretary for Ministry of Information and
Broadcasting Dr. Nazir Saeed, Information Commissioner Punjab Mr. Mukhtar Ahmed Ali, Dr. Kazue Kay Nagata Director UNESCO along with Regional RTI experts from Afghanistan, Srilanka and Nepal attended the meeting and shared their experiences regarding RTI laws. Among the locals media practitioners, journalists, students of mass communications and member of civil society actively participated in the conference.
Shahid Khaqan Abbasi as a chief guest said that press freedom and responsible journalism go side by side in democracy. It was the duty of journalists to create a balance to avoid unethical journalistic practices. He said that it was investigative journalism that provided the right to information to people and we have extensive access to information in our country in the shape of effective laws of RTI but there was a need to arrange discussions about RTI in our society so that the flaws could be identified.
Mr. Shafqat Mahmood Abbasi Chairman PCP while expressing his solidarity on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day with the journalists said we salute those who lost their lives in the lines of professional duty. He said that we pushed the government both at provincial and federal level to enact RTI laws across country and now we had very good laws for KPK and Punjab.
Mr. Tanka Raj Aryal from Nepal while sharing his experience said that there was a great need to educate and train the general public about using the RTI laws as when we generated great demand that lead great empowerment on supply side and in case of no demand the best law could end up as bad law. He said Digitization of the date of public bodies will provide great transparence and accountability.
Dr. Kazue Kay Nagata Director UNESCO said that Pakistan was interested in economic development and media was playing important role in creating awareness and positive image of the society so to promote social transformation and changes that was need of every society, media should play his role. She was of the view that security, safety and sustainable development was needed for economic growth that was directly linked with right to information.