Workshop on Punjab Transparency and Right to information Act 2013

Workshop Title: Workshop on Punjab Transparency and Right to information Act 2013
Venue: Shadipura, Lahor,
Date: February 28, 2022

Summary : 

Transparency International Pakistan in collaboration with Social Development Initiative (SDI) arranged a workshop in Shadipur, Lahore. The workshop aimed to educate the citizens particularly women about Access to Information laws in Pakistan and how citizens can use RTI laws to play an active role in combating corruption.

A total of 27 participants including 20 women participated in the workshop. The program started at 11.00 AM. Mr. Shahid Nadeem, Chief Executive Social Development Initiative (SDI) gave a historical overview of the Access to Information laws in Pakistan. He highlighted that the foremost importance of Right to Information (RTI) is that it is a social accountability tool to empower the citizens to promote transparency and accountability in the working of the Government.  

Mr. Ashfaque Ahmed, Project Coordinator TI Pakistan gave a historical insight into the weaknesses of Freedom of Information laws in Pakistan and the contribution of Civil Society Organization in advocating for the enactment of strong RTI laws both at Federal and Provincial Levels. He covered in detail the use of Punjab Transparency and RTI laws, the role of Public information Officer (PIO) and the Punjab Information Commission. He also assisted the participants with the process of filing an RTI request, and in an instance when a request is changed into a complaint, how to process it with the Punjab Information Commission.

Mr. Ashfaque also covered in detail the use and the importance of Proactive Disclosure clause of Punjab Transparency and Right to Information Act 2013. He argued that the proactive disclosure obliges different governments of Punjab government to provide the basic information on authority/department website before a citizen inquires about it. Throughout the interactive session, participants asked various questions including about the use of information once it is received by the citizen and the scope of Federal and Provincial RTI laws.  

At the end of the workshop, participants wrote RTI applications addressed to different departments of the Govt of Punjab. This exercise helped participants enhanced their understanding on the use of Punjab RTI law. A total of 15 RTI requests were prepared requesting information about the departmental budget, number of doctors in a hospital, municipal workers and the number of teachers working in the district Lahore, Punjab.

Participants praised the efforts of Transparency International Pakistan towards creating awareness about the Right to Information laws and suggested organizing similar sessions in different Tehsils and Districts of Punjab.