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> Freedom of Information
Briefing Session for Parliamentarians
June 28, 2004
Hotel Marriott, Islamabad

Briefing Paper [PDF] [936 KB]
Urdu [936 KB]

A Briefing on the topic of Freedom of Information was held by PILDAT for Parliamentarians on June 28, 2004. Chaired by Senator Nisar Memon, Chairman Senate Committee on Information and Broadcasting, the briefing involved speakers such as Mr. Syed Anwar Mehmood, Federal Secretary of Information and Broadcasting; Ms. Sherry Rehman, MNA and former editor Herald magazine; Mr. Mujib-ur-Rehman Shami, Editor-in-Chief Daily Pakistan and Mr. M. Ziauddin, Resident Editor Dawn, Islamabad and President SAFMA.


A total of nineteen (19) Parliamentarians participated in the briefing including 13 Senators and 6 MNAs. A number of civil society representatives, media persons and experts also participated in the briefing as observers. A Briefing Paper was especially developed by PILDAT which was distributed to participants as part of Information Dossiers containing copies of speeches of resource persons, relevant background reading and resource material and details of the programme of the briefing.


The session began by welcome remarks by Mr. Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, Executive Director PILDAT. Ms. Aasiya Riaz, Joint Director gave a presentation on the rai·son d'ê·tre of the briefing topic. Mr. Syed Anwar Mehmood presented major aspects of the Freedom of Information Ordinance – 2002 highlighting that most developed democracies with the Freedonm of Information laws also have a regime of exclusion in-built into the laws. He said that Pakistan is the first country of SAARC to have introduced Freedom of Information laws.


Ms. Sherry Rehman, MNA, who has also presented a Private Member’s Bill in the National Assembly for the repeal of Freedom of Information Ordinance – 2002 presented major highlights of her bill stating that it seeks to address the deficiencies and gaps of the earlier freedom of information ordinance. She said that freedom of information laws ensure citizens’ access to information which is necessary for transparent governance in the country.


Mr. M. Ziauddin presented SAFMA’s stance on the issue. He was of the view that the Media in Pakistan is free to express opinion but not to have access to information. As a result most of the opinions expressed in the media can be misleading as these do not correspond with facts – access to which is must.


Mr. Mujib-ur-Rehman Shami believed that the Press Freedom has come a long way in Pakistan from the era in which it used to be next to impossible to get a declaration for a publication. He believed that a lot of content of Freedom of Information Ordinance -2002 has been developed in consultation with representative media organisations, however there is still a lot of room for improvement.