As most advocates of Right to Information (RTI) laws in Pakistan know, strong information commission — the statutory appellate bodies created by provincial and federal RTI laws — are crucial for effective implementation of the laws and a stronger access-to-information eco-system in Pakistan.
The information commissions receive complaints from citizens who have not heard back from government departments on their information requests or feel the government departments have not satisfactorily responded to their questions. The commissions can summon public officials, order them to provide information and impose fines on non-provision of public records.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) has arguably one of the best information commissions in the country but even this commission is facing a tough challenge of following up on the complaints and getting the bureaucracy in line, as Geo News Peshawar’s reporter Qaiser Khan explains in his in-depth report on the Geo website.
Khan, who attended Media for Transparency’s basic data journalism training in Peshawar and was later selected for the advanced skills boot camp in Murree, is a young and dynamic news reporter interested in multimedia and data-driven stories. While he reports primarily for the broadcast news channel, he routinely contributes pieces for the channel’s website.
Khan’s story shows that the total number of RTI requests filed to public bodies in KP decreased in 2016-17 compared to the previous year, perhaps due to the lenghty delays in processing the requests.
However, as Khan points out in the story, the number of information requests addressed (or answered) by the KP government departments has increased. Since 2014, government departments have responded to around 2 out of every 3 RTI requests, which is a healthy trend.
You can read Khan’s complete story here. You can also check out an infographic based on the KP Information Commission’s statistics developed by Media for Transparency.