Governance under Sunshine

By Shiza Malik (The News International on Sunday) 3 November, 2013 - Access to information is viewed as an instrument for transparency and accountability, integral to good governance and people’s effective participation in public affairs. It is recognised as a fundamental right in the world today, with 90 countries having passed legislation to ensure their citizens’ right to know and many in the process of realising this aspiration.

Today, 200 million Pakistanis havle a constitutionally guaranteed fundamental right to information. In 2013, the populace enjoys legal cover at the federal and provincial levels. The concept is being embedded in local government related laws as well.

The 18th Amendment expanded the scope of fundamental rights in Pakistan attempting to make these in consonance with free and democratic societies of the world. Though the freedom of access to information and expression was enshrined as Article 19 in the 1973 Constitution, it was not until the passage of the 18th Amendment that the Right to Information was listed as a fundamental right. Article 19-A States, “Every Citizen shall have the right to have access to information in matters of public importance subject to regulation and reasonable restrictions imposed by law.”