November 26: A one-day training session for Public Information Officers (PIOs) appointed under the Punjab Transparency and Right to Information Act 2013 was held by the Punjab Information Commission (PIC) in Lahore.
The training was attended by a diverse group of 20 PIOs representing the Departments of Agriculture, Education, Health, Planning and Development, Police, Population Welfare, Public Prosecution, Sports and Town Planning from the districts of Layyah, Lahore, Multan, Muzzaffargarh and Rajanpur. PIOs from offices of Tehsil Municipal Administration in Multan were also present.
The training session was developed and organized in collaboration with PILDAT to sensitize PIOs on the Effective Use of the Punjab Transparency and Right to Information Act, 2013. The session included an in-depth overview of What is RTI and Why it is Important, which wasled by Mr. Mukhtar Ahmad Ali, Information Commissioner, PIC. Mr. Ahmad Mubarak, former Police Service Pakistan Officer, briefed the participants on Responsibilities of Public Information Officers under the Punjab Transparency and Right to Information Act, 2013. The training ended with a group simulation exercise in which participants enacted the roles of Public Information Officers and Information Seekers in scenarios designed to test their knowledge of the Act.
Mr. Mukhtar Ahmad Ali drew extensively on examples highlighting the importance of RTI within both Islamic and Western history, and drew the basis of this fundamental right from both Islamic and Western canon. “RTI is no longer the sole domain of developed countries,” he said. “Various developing countries like India and Bangladesh have successfully modernized their governance systems through enactment of RTI”.
Mr. Ahmad Mubarak apprised participants about their responsibilities and powers under Punjab’s RTI law. “PIOs are the first point of contact with the public in the overall system of information disclosure under the PIC,” he explained. “The law empowers them to decide on matters of information disclosure according to the provisions of RTI law, regardless of the personal wishes of superior officers within their assigned offices or coordinating Ministries.”
Inaugurating the Training Session, Mr. Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, President, PILDAT, commended the PIC for its role in leading the way on RTI within Pakistan. Mr. Mazhar Hussain Minhas, Chief Information Commissioner, appreciated the participants’ enthusiasm and encouraged them to implement what they had learnt during the training within their respective government departments.
The Training of Public Information Officers (PIOs) on the Effective Use Punjab Transparency and Right to Information Act 2013 was facilitated by PILDAT under the More effective Right-To-Information (RTI) at Federal and Provincial level (Sindh and Punjab) Project, for which PILDAT has received financial support from Development Alternative Inc. (DAI) under the Enhanced Democratic Accountability and Civic Engagement (EDACE) Project.
Mr. Ahmad Shah Durrani, Assistant Projects Officer, PILDAT
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