Concerted strategy for women development programme in Balochistan devised: Parliamentary Secretary Law

| Obstacles in way of women’s welfare and development will be overcome through technical assistance, says Dr Buledi


QUETTA   –   Parliamentary Secretary for Law and Parliamentary Affairs, Dr Rubaba Khan Baledi on Friday said that a concerted strategy was being devised for technical assistance and implementation of the policy of the Women’s Development Program in the province.

She was speaking as a special guest at an awareness program organised by the women development department at the University of Balochistan here.

Secretary women development department Dr Umar Babar, Deputy Secretary Jahan Ara Tabassum, director Shazia Riaz, vice chancellor University of Balochistan Dr Shafiqul Rehman were also present on the occasion.

Addressing the function, Dr Rubaba Khan said that female students in universities and colleges would be trained in information technology skills development so that they would be equipped with IT education and benefit from global development and research in all walks of life.

Dr Buledi said that the obstacles in the way of women’s welfare and development would be overcome through technical assistance.

“Effective media campaign and holding of stakeholder conferences for effective implementation of women development packages could also help in achieving the targets,” she said.

“Awareness of rights and government facilities is a social responsibility of all sections of civil society and women in all senior positions need to play their part in implementing government policies for the welfare and development of poor women,” she concluded.

Meanwhile, Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI), in collaboration with Pakistan Information Commission (PIC), organized a one-day seminar on “Right to Information, Challenges and the Way Forward” in Quetta on Wednesday to share findings of RTI assessment report and generate informed debate among stakeholders about the challenges and hurdles posed in the implementation of RTI laws in Pakistan.

Aftab Alam, Consultant, CPDI, shared the findings of study titled “Assessment of Right to Information Implementation (Bureaucratic Hurdles)”. The study aims to assess the quality of implementation of the Right of Access to Information Act 2017, including major impediments such as administrative loopholes inherited in the system, lack of required resources and ability to digitize the internal reporting and evaluation systems that make PIOs answerable to the head of departments and other bureaucratic hurdles. The study highlights that Pakistan Information Commission (PIC) is facing serious challenges to implement the Act.

These challenges include administrative, procedural and legal challenges since its establishment in November 2018. Moreover, Federal ministries remained sluggish in compliance of statutory obligations under the Act.

Most of the public bodies failed to proactively disclose information on their websites as required by section 05 of the RAI Act. Government authorities also showed reluctance in implementation of orders of the PIC.

Mukhtar Ahmad Ali, ED CPDI, the importance of information and said that essence of RTI revolves around online/offline proactive disclosure of information by government departments. He appreciated that RTI laws have been enacted in provinces and federal level whereas implementation remains a question especially in Sindh and Balochistan. He welcomed the newly appointed information Commissioners in Sindh Information Commission (SIC).

 He encouraged citizens to use their fundamental right to know to promote transparency, accountability and inclusiveness of citizens. Mehboob Qadir Shah, Chief of Punjab Information Commission remarked that transparency and meritocracy are the fundamental attributes of developed nations. While highlighting the flaws in system, he said that lack of political commitment is main hurdle in implementation of RTI in Punjab.

Nusrat Hussain, Chief Information Commissioner (SIC) appreciated his predecessors and said that despite of lack of administrative support and resources, 150 complaints were resolved out of the total 165 complaints by Sindh Information Commissioner. He remarked that, provincial government of Sindh is committed to support SIC for effective implementation of RTI. He added, in the last week, they have received 30 information requests from citizens. Newly Appointed Chief of SIC is determined to improve website of SIC to ensure proactive disclosure of information whereas lack of resources and staff are the main challenges for SIC.

Muhammad Azam, Chief of Pakistan Information Commission remarked that citizens are the custodian of information held by government departments. He commented about the bureaucratic behaviors of government departments and PIOs regarding maximum disclosure of information and public record. He encouraged citizens and PIOs to understand their roles and responsibilities under RTI Law. He suggested that a joint massive awareness campaign shall be run by commissions, media and civil society to ensure maximum disclosure of information.

Imran Khan, Secretary Information, Government of Balochistan said Rules under Balochistan RTI Act, 2021 are laid before the Chief Minister Balochistan and will be finalized soon. Establishment of Balochistan Information Commission is delayed since the enactment of Balochistan RTI Act in February 2021, he added. He claims that culture of secrecy, lack of political will, lack of awareness in citizens and bureaucratic hurdles are the challenges in the path of RTI implementation in Balochistan.

During the question answer session, the participants were enlightened in detail regarding implementation of RTI laws in Pakistan. At the end, all the participants pledged to continue their joint efforts for the promotion of transparent and accountable RTI regime in Pakistan with maximum public access to information.

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