The Balochistan Freedom of Information Act from 2005, the only right to information law in the province is weak and requires amendments to bring transparency and openness in affairs of the provincial government.
This was concluded during an online consultative session between stakeholders for bringing reforms in the law. The session had been organised by the Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) on Sunday.
Participants of the session included social activist Behram Lehri, journalist Syed Ali Shah, Pashtukhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) MPA Nasarullah Zayrai and Federal Information Commissioner Zahid Abdullah.
The participants unanimously agreed that the Balochistan FOI Act 2005 is not consistent with the regional and national best practices and that it requires amendments.
It was further argued that the law does not provide the fullest possible access to information held by public bodies in the province. In fact, the participants were of the considered view that Balochistan has the weakest information law in Pakistan.
They pointed out that the law has flaws such as a restrictive scope, an arduous process to obtain information under the law, while the list of exempted information is longer than the disclosable information.
They further argued that K-P, Punjab, Sindh and the federal government had all repealed weak RTI laws to replace them with progressive ones. Hence, the Balochistan government must now do the same and start the legislative process for devising an effective RTI law to bring transparency and openness in government matters.
It was further disclosed that a draft for amending the law had already been prepared but it has yet to be presented before the Balochistan Assembly even.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 6th, 2020