Presidency, Citizen Face To Face Over Non-Disclosure Of Information

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Mukhtar Ahmad Ali, a former information commissioner at Punjab Information Commission has filed an application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act 2017 to seek information from President Arif Alvi and the President Secretariat about how many staffers do they employ.
The Presidency refused to share the information claiming that it is not a public body and therefore does not come under the ambit of the transparency law. Ali challenged the Presidency’s claim at the Pakistan Information Commission (PIC) an appellant forum that hears cases against the government departments who deny sharing information with the public. The PIC ruled in favor of Ali and asked the Presidency to provide the required information to the applicant within 10 working days. But, the Presidency remained adamant that it is not a public body and thereby not required to respond to the application under RTI law, and decided to take the matter to Islamabad High Court (IHC). interviewed Mukhtar Ahmed Ali on his application under RTI where he questions the Presidency about the number of staffers they employ.
Here is Mukhtar Ahmed Ali’s stance:

“Article 19 A is very clear, under which every citizen can seek information from any government department. There are some exceptions in it but they are also subject to reasonable restrictions imposed by the law. But, the act of the Presidency to deny sharing information to a citizen is not reasonable by any means.”

“I think the bureaucracy of the Presidency has convinced the President to not to share the information. They (the bureaucracy) are of the view that if we provide answers to these harmless questions then it will become a precedent. After that more questions will follow and some of those questions may cause them embarrassment and that is why they don’t want to open a Pandora’s box.”