KHANEWAL-Speakers during a briefing session with journalists at Fort Hotel, Khanewal highlighted the importance of right to information, saying under Article 19-A of Constitution; it was the fundamental right of every citizen in Pakistan.

The session was organised in collaboration with Punjab Information Commission and District Information Office, Khanewal the other day. ADCG Manzoor Ahmad Khan Chandiaya and Khanewal District Bar Association president Ajmal Bhutta were the guests of honour.

Executive Director Haji Ahmad Naeem that right to information (RTI) was considered important to empower citizens, ensure transparency in governance, and improve public services by facilitating public participation and oversight. "In view of these considerations, the Punjab government enacted the Punjab Transparency and RTI Act, 2013, which facilitates easy implementation of this important fundamental right to information," he added.

He said that the law provided a comprehensive definition of information, defined which government bodies need to disclose information, what they had to disclose and what information was to be exempted. He said that it also required public bodies to put in place the systems and personnel for record management and to provide information to citizens.

Haji Ahmad Naeem further said that the law helped citizens because it not only confirmed their right to secure information but also empowered them to demand information from public bodies.

Addressing the session, chief guest ADCG Manzoor Ahmad Khan Chandiaya said that right to information was the basic right of every citizen. "You, as a citizen, have every right to have access to information in government and private bodies run on public funds," he maintained. He said that the RTI was based on the principle that information belonged to the people. He added that the RTI boosted transparency, which in turn strengthened accountability, reduced corruption and improved delivery of public services.

District Information Officer Salman Khalid in his speech said that RTI enabled citizens to hold public officials accountable for their actions, demand for rights and better services, take a stand against corrupt practices, and so on. "The law empowers you and you benefit from the law even if you never make a request for information," he pointed out. He expressed gratitude to the Punjab information commission and executive director Haji Ahmad Naeem for providing journalists such an informative learning session.