Sunday, December 12, 2010

WikiLeaks & Access to Information in Pakistan.

Should information that is formally designated by states and governments as classified be made public, if access is available (through whatever means), is at the heart of the WikiLeaks debate. And since the debate is going global and helping galvanize opinion on whether the overlap between right to know and right to privacy should shrink or stay represents a shift in the evolution of the global information system. There is the traditional argument mounted by the right to information supporters that everything the government does is funded by the taxpayers and, therefore, they have the inherent privilege of knowing what the money is spent on and the value it generates for them. The establishment, of course, benefits from hiding information that either makes their accountability hurtful or which reveals them to be in breach of public trust on issues that may be against public interest. What the establishment articulates is national interest and what is in public interest is not necessarily the same although the public interest should certainly be the same as national interest. REFERENCE: Right to know, not right to ‘no’ Should information that is formally designated by states and governments as classified be made public By Adnan Rehmat

Mr. Samsam Ali Bukhari, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting, Chair of the Session, emphasized the strong need to make Pakistan a corruption free society. He said: Government has taken some steps towards ensuring transparency in the society. Defence budget was discussed in the Assembly for the first time in the history of Pakistan and Public Accounts Committee chair has been given to an opposition leader for the first time. Access to Information is not a favour but a right of the people. Government has opened itself to criticism and we welcome instructive criticism. We request the media to come up with a code of conduct. REFERENCE: Policy Dialogue Forum Policy Dialogue Forum - Ensuring Good Governance through Strengthening Administrative Justice and Accountability First Draft Conference Report

Individualland Pakistan Executive Director Gulmina Bilal said that transparency in governance not only improved goodwill of the government but all its functionaries. Governance is not just limited to politics but economic governance is of great importance as well. Economy of a country decides moods of the population, because their welfare depends solely on this important factor, she said. Gulmina said that Pakistan being a democracy also had this legislation as an integral part of its constitution. However, its implementation was still not up to the mark. At the end it was agreed that better understanding of governance, especially economic governance and transparency are important aspects of successful governments. It was also agreed that consensus between different stakeholders on increasing transparency could only be ensured by proper implementation of the right to information legislation. REFERENCE: Access to information stressed to ensure transparency, good governance Staff Report Saturday, November 27, 2010\11\27\story_27-11-2010_pg7_32

Freedom of Information Legislation in Pakistan - Civil Society Recommendations Drafted by: Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) and ActionAid Pakistan Islamabad December 2009

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