In Pakistan, most arguments or conflicts can be judged according to one overarching concept - the defense of the nation. Police won’t lodge an FIR for you? You might be threatening the delicate defense system of the country. No water in your taps? It might be serving the higher purpose of defending the nation instead. Sometimes, the connections between seemingly unrelated actions can be explained and at other times it does not make sense by any stretch of imagination..

Earlier in the year, Shehri-CBE wrote to the Cantonment Executive Officer of the Karachi Cantonment Board enquiring under the Federal Freedom of Information Ordinance 2002, about the notified rates and areas for KCB, charged parking, a copy of their rules governing charged parking and relevant person dealing with Charged Parking. Receiving no response within requisite 21-days, Shehri lodged a complaint as per FOI law with Federal Ombudsman for non-provision of information by the Cantonment Executive Officer, and then we waited patiently. Reply was received, but it was the reply that astonished us. We were told that the Federal Ombudsman cannot take cognisance of our compliant as the matter was related to the defense of Pakistan. And that was that.

Can you see the correlation between Charged Parking and the defense of Pakistan? We cannot.

In this case, the failure is not limited to the application of the FOI laws or the fact that the Ombudsman took no cognisance of the complaint. It is a failure of the entire system, the so called check-and-balance mechanisms provided by the law seems to be a sham. Public organisations do not care to follow the rules and when they are questioned, everything can be dismissed with a wave of ‘Defense of Pakistan’, “sorry cannot tell.”


Karachi, October 15.