RTI vital for improving governance in Gilgit-Baltistan

Mehdi Abul Hasan

Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of United States, defined Democracy as, “a government of the people, by the people, and for the people”.

Modern liberal democracy has its roots in the American War of Independence. They were the first to introduce the human rights and their political rights. they are the advocate and staunch supporters of human rights. Their emerged a political doctrine in nineteenth century which is considered as Enlightenment liberal value i-e individualism, according to which every individual is important in the virtue of self-reliance and personal independence regardless of his political, cultural and religious afflictions and attachments.

Democracy has also certain semblance with individualism, because it best serves and facilitates the interest of individual. People living on a definite territory has certain sense of cohesion and some binding forces through which they are driven within a state. There is a social contract between the state and people, and they are bounded with certain forces. That bounding force is law and constitution, which is usually known as supreme law of the land.

State acquires these powers from constitution and exercise within the country to maintain law and order. Similarly, citizens living in that area also posses’ certain rights which they can use to make the state answerable and ensure transparency and accountability in all its spheres in different government institutions.

One of these laws are RTI (Right to Information) law.

According to this law,

“All the citizens have the right to access to the information, subject to the regulations and reasonable restrictions imposed by the law “.The developed countries like the US, U.K France and Germany have incorporated this law in their constitution through which their  citizens make their governments and government officials accountable and get access to the information and official records. This is the reasons that democracies well function there, as compared to developing or third world countries.

Unfortunately, in Pakistan this law hasn’t been enfranchised till 2010.In access to the information retards and decelerates the capacity and interest of public and generates a political apathy among the masses.

This occurring political apathy and lack of information keeps the public away from mainstream policy framing, which finally paves the way for arbitrary decision making, inefficient project execution and financial corruption in all public bodies. It also provides an upper hand to the policy makers to frame policies in close corridors without exploiting public views. They usually frame policies which consolidates their position and  best serves their interest rather than the public.

By and large, right after a lot of struggle by Non-Governmental Organizations, The RTI was finally incorporated by the incumbent government of Pakistan People’s party in 2010 under eighteenth constitutional amendment. It is positive development and good gesture to strengthen democracy within the state and minimize the ambiguities which persists in all government institutions across four provinces in Pakistan.

Its will genuinely ensure transparency and minimize the botch and ill practices in government offices.

The Gilgit Baltistan is constantly and continuously kept aloof from the political process for last seven decades. Their political and constitutional right are constantly usurped by the Pakistani Government. The democratic as well as the military dictators vehemently denied the inborn rights of people of Gilgit Baltistan.

Although, the area best served the interest of Pakistan through tourism and many other ways. currently, a democratically elected government is sitting in the federal capital with two third majority. We demand from the honorable Prime Minister of Pakistan Mr. Imran Khan, who seems very keen in solving issues and fixing problems of Pakistan to implement the right to information law in Gilgit Baltistan to protect the fundamental rights of citizens of Gilgit Baltistan.

The Government Institutions in Gilgit Baltistan are ridden with financial corruptions. Common people do not have the realization and access to the records as a result of which government servants do massive corruptions especially in WAPDA, PWD, NATCO, Agriculture, Police, AGPR, etc.

The extension of this law to the region will genuinely help the citizens to retrieve the information and data from the government institutions and help in keeping an eye on the government servants. Moreover, the citizens will also get acquainted of their basic rights. The extension of this law to Gilgti Baltistan will also address some grievances of the region as there exists a severe desperation among the people. People are of the opine that the state of Pakistan has cornered the people of Gilgit Baltistan. This continuous marginalization will lead someday to radicalisation.so, we demand from the central government to take this matter seriously and do something in this connection.

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