Pakistan may be the only country in the world whose leaders prefer to discuss their internal administrative matters by calling meeting of state officials in foreign lands. Pakistan may also be the only country where this practice is considered kosher and no questions are asked about “who foots the bill” for these junkets.

In the last week of July 2015, two Karachi citizens decided to break the stony silence and wrote to the Chief Minister and the Chief Secretary Sindh to seek information under the Sindh Freedom of Information Act 2006 and Article 19A of the Constitution of Pakistan. In their joint application they argued that it was the right of every citizen to seek information from any government functionary, especially on matters relating to use of official funds. The request for information sought facts and records relating to the visit of Sindh Chief Minister, Ministers, Parliamentarians and other government officials who visited UAE from 1.1.2010 till today, for attending meetings related to Sindh province, party meetings or any other individual or collective meetings with party leaders. The applicants requested that the information for all such individual may be provided under the following heads:

a) Name of individual

b) Date and duration of each visit to UAE for any of the above mentioned reasons.

c) Expenses incurred in each visit (to include air travel, road travel, boarding, lodging and hotel expenses in UAE)

d) Government Budget Head under which expenses were paid for.

e) Clarification if any individual paid expenses from his/her own pocket or if the expenses were paid for by the political party.

While the applicants are hopeful, most others have termed this accountability exercise as a waste of time by a bunch of dreamy idealists. Can one hope that the eternal Chief Minister of Sindh and his Chief Secretary would not disappoint the applicants, follow the law and state the truth?

NAEEM SADIQ,

Lahore, July 31.