The majority of government institutions and departments have declined to respond to hundreds of queries by Geo News, which were sent to them under the Right To Information (RTI) laws, Investigative Reporter Zahid Gishkori reports for The News.
According to the Punjab Information Commission, RTI is the right that you have, as a citizen, to access information from your government and private bodies that receive public funds. It is based on the principle that information belongs to the people. Under Article 19-A of the Constitution, RTI is a fundamental right in Pakistan.
The media outlet reportedly sent approximately 400 different queries to 36 key institutions in the last nine months but 90 per cent of them didn’t respond or simply declined. Only 10 per cent of queries were partially responded to by the institutions, providing either very little or patchy information.
According to the report, a few of the institutions provided factually incorrect and cooked-up information.
Over 100 queries were sent to the governments of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) and Punjab, both have not responded. Similarly, Sindh and Balochistan did not receive the correspondent’s queries.
The departments that simply refused to share any information includes the offices of the Prime Minister, President, Chief Ministers, Cabinet Members, Supreme and High Courts, Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Authority, National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Assets Recovery Unit (ARU), Parliament, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the report states.
The Cabinet Division (CD) refused to share any information regarding gifts and the use of helicopters by PM Khan. The ARU and NAB refused to share information on the Broadsheet scandal, as per the report.
Furthermore, it says that the Ministry of Interior even shared false information by saying no official is facing inquiry in issuing bogus visas to Chinese nationals. despite the fact that the interior ministry itself referred an inquiry against its own officials allegedly involved in a visa scam to the FIA for probe.
During the process, Gishkori was approached by four cabinet members and half a dozen senior civil servants to withdraw the requests.