PESHAWAR: Pakistan's northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa yesterday unveiled Right to Information Ordinance (RTIO).
The ordinance makes it binding upon the government to set up an independent information commission and makes obstruction in access to any record a penal offence punishable by up to two years imprisonment.
The ordinance, promulgated by the governor on Aug 13, was made public at a ceremony attended by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chief Imran Khan, Chief Minister Pervez Khattak, ministers and MPAs.
For the first time in the country, the law provides protection to “whistleblowers”, stating that no one may be subject to any legal, administrative or employment-related sanction, regardless of any breach of a legal obligation, for releasing information on wrongdoings, or which would disclose a serious threat to health, safety or the environment, as long as they acted in good faith.
Khan said the RTIO was the most important component of the PTI’s election manifesto and through it the government intended to ensure transparency and accountability in its affairs.
He said other major items on the party’s agenda would also be implemented soon, including setting up of an independent accountability commission for which final touches were being given to a proposed law; introducing a genuine local government system aimed at empowering people at the grassroots level and bringing revolutionary changes in education and heath sectors.
Chief Minister Khattak and Information Secretary Azmat Haneef Orakzai explained the salient features of the ordinance, whose constitutional life was 90 days. After that it would be laid before the provincial assembly for making it an act.