RTI effective tool to enhance quality of journalism, public oversight: Experts

ISLAMABAD, Jul 19 (APP): The experts at an awareness and orientation session on Wednesday underlined the use of the Right to Information (RTI) as an effective tool to ensure quality journalism and public oversight through a decent mode of information collection and dissemination for ensuring improvement and transparency in the system.

The Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) conducted a session for government officials and journalists on understanding RTI laws and the responsibilities of public officials.

The National Institute of Management (NIM) Quetta’s delegation, led by Director General Muhammad Aslam Ghani, expressed gratitude for the session.

Towards the session’s conclusion, participants united in calling for the effective enforcement of RTI laws in Pakistan.

A demand for the establishment of the Balochistan Information Commission under the Balochistan Right to Information Act 2021 was raised, highlighting the urgency of transparent governance and information accessibility in Pakistan.

During the second part of the orientation session journalists and media professionals gathered for an orientation session focused on leveraging the right to information for investigative reporting.

Senior investigative journalists, including Waseem Abbasi, Umar Cheema, and Tahir Khalil shared their invaluable experiences in practising investigative journalism in Pakistan. Despite the challenges and risks associated with journalism in the country, they emphasized the paramount importance of truth-telling and combating corruption through the effective use of RTI.

The Speakers remarked that the collective mission should be to bring about transparency and foster social accountability in Pakistan through the power of responsible journalism. They encouraged young and budding journalists to never shy away from speaking the truth.

During the session, participants learned about the evolution of the RTI with a particular focus on its relevance in the present context. Overall, the main theme revolved around utilizing this powerful tool as a catalyst for groundbreaking investigative reporting.

During the interactive session with young journalists, the Executive Director of CPDI, Mukhtar Ahmad Ali shed light on the progressive journey of the right to information in Pakistan.

He provided an overview of the historical and legislative landscape of the right to information and freedom of information in Pakistan. He emphasized that the emergence of RTI in Pakistan is the biggest reform in contemporary times, representing a transformation from secrecy to transparency.

He actively addressed the journalists’ inquiries, elaborating on the procedures for filing RTIs and lodging complaints under federal and provincial RTI laws.

Chief Information Commissioner of Pakistan Information Commission, Shoaib Ahmad Siddiqui, graced the event as the Chief Guest, affirming the Commission’s unwavering dedication to facilitating information disclosure for the greater benefit of the public.

He remarked that the Pakistan Information Commission is open to all citizens, especially journalists. He encouraged young journalists to be committed to the profession of unravelling the truth with dignity.

Siddiqui emphasised that journalism was an important institution that used to serve as a reformer and guide in any society whereas hostile behaviour and adversity towards the journalist fraternity would prove to be a poison for the government and the governance of the system.

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