Senators say ‘certain institutions’ continue to place hurdles in access to information

ISLAMABAD: Admitting that certain institutions in the country lacked transparency and accountability, former information minister and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Senator Pervaiz Rashid said there were “some institutions” in the country which placed hurdles in access to information.
while speaking at a ceremony organised by the Coalition on the Right to Information at the National Press Club here on Thursday, Mr Rashid regretted that people were not granted access to information on the pretext of “national security”.
The PML-N senator said that several parliamentarians had asked questions regarding the judiciary, but had not received any reply. He said former prime minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto had vowed that martial law would never return to the country, however, Pakistan had continued to face long periods of martial law and the abrogation of the Constitution by dictators. He said the court had even allowed a military dictator to amend the Constitution.
The former minister said everyone had the right to know who created non-state organisations in the country and how much public money had been spent on them. He was of the view that the new Right to Information Bill would help promote a culture of freedom of information.
Parliament not even aware of law under which ISI has been functioning: Babar
Mr Rashid added that mere legislation would not serve the purpose as there was a need for enforcement of law in letter and spirit.
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Farhatullah Babar, who had played a key role in the preparation and finalisation of the draft of the Right to Information Bill, squarely blamed security agencies for placing hurdles in the passage of the bill. He regretted that most of the information was not provided because it was termed “secret and sensitive.” He said that they had even written letters to the sensitive agencies to inquire about their concerns, but in return, they were advised not to proceed further with the bill as it dealt with “sensitive matters”.
Mr Babar said there were certain issues which could not and should not be asked from national security institutions, but questions regarding corruption by some officials of these institutions could be asked. He said parliament was not even aware of the law under which the Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) had been functioning in the country.
Similarly, he added, parliament had not been provided a reply to a question regarding an inquiry into the 1999 Kargil debacle.
Mr Babar said it must be binding on every institution, including parliament and the judiciary, to provide information to the public.
Source: DAWN
No probe started in attack on senior journalist
ISLAMABAD: In continuation to ongoing attacks and harassment of critical media persons, now senior journalist Matiullah Jan has been attacked on way to home along with his family in the Bhara Kahu area of the federal capital.
Matiullah, one of the leading journalists, was heading home along with his two sons (18 years and 13 years old) when at 1600 hrs in the afternoon his car was attacked using heavy stones by two attackers on a motorcycle in the Bhara Kahu area. The windscreen of the car was damaged and the attackers managed to escape.
One person driving the motorcycle was wearing a helmet whereas the person sitting behind him and throwing stones carried no helmet. There are many buildings around the place of the incident some of which have CCTV cameras from which help can be taken to identify the attackers.
Geofencing of cell numbers at the location at the time of attack can also help identify the attackers. However, no progress was made until Sunday night in this regard. An application of the incident was moved to the Bhara Kahu Police Station.
An important aspect of the ongoing series of attacks on critical journalists in Pakistan is that they are attacked when they are either accompanying their families or are present in their homes in order to ensure maximum harassment. Almost the same pattern is used and almost the same persons are sent to carry out the attacks.
In almost all the instances, the movement or the location of attackers was identified but no action was taken. Matiullah came under attack on Saturday (Sep 23) when his family was moving somewhere in the Bhara Kahu area. He parked his car on the roadside to get something by leaving his family in the car.
While he was away, a person approached the car and gave a packet to a family member saying, ‘give it to Matiullah’. In a state of confusion, the family member took the packet considering Matiuallah may have sent it.
Matiullah told this correspondent that upon his return when he was told about the packet, he immediately smelled something fishy and considering there could be something harmful in the packet and simply threw it out of the car and drove away. Within 24 hours of the incident, his car was attacked openly on a main road on Sunday afternoon.
Attackers in a series of attacks on journalists are apparently so powerful that the federal government, police and law enforcement seem helpless to proceed despite many evidences. The situation has become so much tense and everyone is so much horrified that government officials and even federal ministers hesitate to speak or even listen to such complaints of repeated attacks on journalists and their families.
Source: The News Internationalrti

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