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In the last five years the legislative landscape governing the practice of the right to information (RTI) in Pakistan has improved tremendously. RTI was codified as a constitutional right of the citizens of Pakistan with the 18th amendment in April 2010. The right was granted through the inclusion of Article 19(A) which states: “Every citizen shall have the right to have access to information in all matters of public importance, subject to regulation and reasonable restrictions imposed by the law.”
Since 2010, RTI advocates across the country have worked towards the enactment of stronger RTI laws to ensure that citizens are able to enjoy this right in its true spirit. In mid-2013, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly became the first to enact a law that has been termed the “strongest RTI law in the whole world” by Tobey Mendel, a global RTI advocate whose organisation creates a global RTI ranking index. By the end of 2013, Punjab had followed suit with strong legislation of its own. It took another three years of advocacy and pressure building before Sindh and then the national assembly followed suit with strong RTI laws for their jurisdictions.
However, the presence of strong laws on paper has not directly translated into a strong tradition of public information provision. Implementation of these laws has been problematic across all regions. The purpose of this report is to present evidence-based analysis of the situation, gaps and challenges in the implementation of the law and its uptake by citizens.