ISLAMABAD - Minister of State for Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage Marriyum Aurangzeb has said that the PML-N government had fulfilled its pledge by introducing the Access to Information Bill, which enjoyed consensus of all the political parties.

While talking to media after the Senate session, she said that the bill would ensure access to information in a transparent and effective matter.

Marriyum said that the government was determined to promote transparency in consonance with the vision of the former Prime Minister. She said that during the last four years not a single case of corruption had been unearthed.

The minister said that the bill had three parts in which the interest of the public had been secured and the parliamentary oversight had been ensured through the formation of Information Commission. She said that the five-member parliamentary committee would consist of three members of the National Assembly and two from the upper house. She revealed that according to the bill it would be mandatory to provide the sought information within ten days and in case of withholding the information cogent reason would have to be given.

The minister said that the public functionaries denying access to information would be awarded two years imprisonment and a fine of upto rupees one hundred thousand. Elaborating further she said that salary of the officer delaying the information beyond the stipulated period would be deducted on daily basis. The information concerning somebody's life and liberty would be provided within three days, she added. The minister said that the journalists would be the greatest beneficiary of the bill as it would enable them to present real and comprehensive facts before the public. Marriyum said that the parliament deserved congratulation for unanimous passage of the bill adding that it would now be laid before the National Assembly during the next session. The minister reiterated that the said legislation would strengthen democracy as it had been drafted in consultation with all the stakeholders which was a welcome development. She said that the bill would ensure direct participation of the people in the process of transparency. Responding to a question, the minister observed that difference of opinion was the beauty of democracy and the process of dialogue in a democracy should continue.

In response to a question about the statement of the US President, she said that the foreign minister would issue a detailed statement on it. She said that the entire world knew that Pakistan had rendered unparalleled sacrifices in the war against terrorism and due to the measures adopted in line with the vision of the former Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif the incidents of terrorism had gone down considerably.

She also paid tribute to the armed forces, law enforcing agencies and the people for their infallible sacrifices.

The issue of national security is of great importance, the minister said, adding that public interest had been also been included in it so that required information could not be denied to the citizens.

She said that timeline had been defined for providing information and solid reasons would have to be given in case of denial to any information.