National Seminar on Citizen’s Right to Information and Social Accountability by SMIU

Sameer Nazir
KARACHI:
Pakistan was the first one in South Asia to embark upon its Journey in the domain of freedom of information by introducing legislation in 1997, but that was a reluctant move and the law, which was inform of an ordinance issued by the President, was allowed to lapse. This was stated by Justice (Retd) Syed Deedar Hussain Shah former Judge of Supreme Court/Chief Justice, Sindh High Court while addressing. National Seminar on Citizen’s Right to Information and Social Accountability organized by Sindh Madressatul Islam University Karachi at a local hotel.
He said that the new government, elected through elections, did not promulgated it or pass it in form of a bill in the parliament and after a lot of inertia and reluctance, another flawed version of the law in form of “Freedom of Information Ordinance” was issued by the President in September 2002 Justice (Retd) Syed Deedar Hussain Shah added that the greatest problem being faced by Pakistan today and during last 67 years of its history has been corruption and with passing every year, the menace of corruption has been constantly increasing. He said that the result of this ever increasing phenomenon has been that, an overwhelmingly large number of development projects financed through Pakistan’s National resources as well as international aid have not been able to contribute to the national economy, the purpose for which they were intended for.
Justice (Retd) Deedar Hussain Shah further said that on the contrary, they enhanced the country’s international financial obligations due to debt retirement increasing poverty. He said that the state of affairs has largely been due to absence of transparency in public spending, both civil and military, and the remedy to this malady lies in cultivating the culture of openness in the public dealings while the institutional framework for bringing openness and transparency could be introduced through the Citizen’s right to Information. He added that it is commendable that the Constitutional protection to the right to Information has been provided; it is high time that Pakistan should frame set of rules for ensuring this right in an efficient and effective manner. He said that it is only through transparency ensured by the Citizen’s right to Information that Pakistan society could curb the menace of corruption making it possible to eradicate poverty and embark upon the Journey to the National Development.
Senator Farhatullah Babar in his speech informed that law regarding establishment of Information Commission is under way and the draft law has been placed before legal committee, which will later be placed before Federal Cabinet and hopefully the bill will be enacted after duly endorsed by the Cabinet. He added the matters pertaining to National Security and Military installations have been exempted from such necessity. The information commission will be comprised of Judges, High ranking advocates, eligible to become the Judges. He said that we only make the law but lacks the implementation of the same at all levels, for which there is need of awareness. He added that this is appropriate time to encourage and approve the law and form the required Commission early with spirit
of work of the subject. Senator Farhatullah Babar also gave replies to questions of audience and students of the University. He said that freedom of speech, freedom of expression and rights of freedom to information have been made with constitutional need. Justice (Retd) Majida Rizvi elaborated constitutional history of human rights, good governance, eradication of corruption, and other aspects which inacted the law of citizens Right to Information and Social Accountability. She added the there is acute need of accountability in our society and social sectors like education, health, public welfare are to be promoted for better results.She further said that the public services/expenditure is to be monitored by responsible authorities. She said that whether it is only to pass law or the issues, atrocities and public grievances must be resolved on priority basis.
Vice Chancellor of SMI University Dr. Muhammad Ali Shaikh in his key note address presented detailed historical background about right to information citing examples of issue, he highlighted the matter prevailed in India and then to Pakistan. He added that at present our Parliamentarians are eligible to obtain information, or the courts of law receive. Details/information while the Government is determined to provide any information. Dr. Muhammad Ali Shaikh added that Citizen is a the master and the poor people have also right to ask question , Vice Chancellor informed that under the UN Charter, the law support to possess freedom of information. Earlier Prof. Aurangzeb of SMIU presented welcome address and highlighted the perspective and background of SMIU. All speakers landed the role of Vice Chancellor Dr. Muhammad Ali Shaikh who arranged the Seminar under the banner of center for public policy, which was attended by intellectuals, researches, lawyers, media men, teachers and students at large.

GOVERNMENT AND NON GOVERNMENT ORGANIZATIONS PLEDGED TO PROTECT AND PROMOTE CHILD RIGHTS

Karachi, December 15: The Government of Sindh, Social Welfare Department has in collaboration with UNICEF organized a program at Social Welfare Training Institute, Karachi. A large number of people from different sections of the society including Government officials, officials of UNICEF, International Organizations, NGOs, CBOs, School Children, teachers and parents participated in the gathering.
The participants of the program vowed to make Pakistan a safe, secure and better place for the future generations. It was organized in connection to a series of events planned as part of the 25th anniversary of United Nations Speakers of the Universal Children’s Day informed that United Nations General Assembly unanimously adopted the CRC on 20th November 1989. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child has been ratified more quickly and by more government than any other human rights instrument in history. It was informed CRC is an international treaty that recognizes the human rights of children, defined as persons up to the age of 18 years. It makes children the holders of over 40 fundamental rights. It was added that “CRC is a pledge by the State Parties to protect and promote the rights of children and the Universal Children’s Day reminds us to work for the children of the country.’
The Secretary Social Welfare Department Sindh informed that Social Welfare Department is committed to the protection and promotion of child rights in the province. Social Welfare Department Sindh has established child Protection Units (CPUs) in Twelve districts including Karachi, Hyderabad, TM Khan, Badin, Mirpurkhas, Sanghar, Sukkur, Khairpur, Ghotki, Kashmore, Shikarpur and Jacobabad. These Child Protection Units have been established with the support of UNICEF.
It was informed that the establishment of the Child Protection Units (CPUs) in different parts of the province is part of the mechanism intended to strengthen the child protection system at local level. It was added that Child Protection Units offer support to children, victim of abuse, violence or neglect and provide help through a referral network of service providers, comprising both government departments and non-government organizations.
The participants of the program were informed that in 2014; Child Protection Units (CPUs) received more than three thousand calls as well as cases of different nature including abuse, violence, missing children, family tracing, early child marriage, corporal punishment, disability certificate, health, education and financial support. It was also informed that Child Protection Units have so far provided benefit to 18,365 children in different districts of Sindh province.
Social Welfare Department Sindh also endorsed the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for child Protection Units. These SOPs have been prepared with the coordination of Departments of Social Welfare of all four provinces with assistance from UNICEF. The overarching purpose of the document is to provide clear guidance on case management, administrative and professional requirements. Furthermore, it sets specific standard procedures to be followed at each step of the child protection process within CPU.
At the end of the program, it was observed by a speaker that 25th anniversary of Universal Children’s Day is an occasion to celebrate the progress made during the last 25 years; additionally, it also reminds us to work hard for the protection of our future generations. It was reiterated that Social Welfare Department, Government of Sind and UNICEF are fully committed ad trying their level best for the elimination of all forms of violence against children, both girls and boys. The program was concluded on a national song, immaculately sung by the student of Government Boys and Girls School, Sita Nagar, Sachal Goth, Karachi.

SAMEER NAZIR
KARACHI:
The Sindh Govt has decided to outlet its 3 lac MT wheat at its reduced price of Rs 3250/= instead of previously fixed price Rs 3450 per 100 kg wheat bag from Dec 15,2014 to January 15, 2015.Sindh Govt also spared separate 1.5 MT wheat for export in same rate. It was decided that this rate will be admissible only for one month after that the wheat price would be reviewed as par current market rate. The CM prohibited the Sugar Cane supply into Sindh province from other provinces and urged upon the Federal Govt to direct TCP & PASCO for extending their business upto Sindh province and procure Agro products from Sindh Province as well. This was decided in the meeting presided over by Chief Minister Sindh Syed Qaim Ali Shah to review the available wheat stock and its marketing mechanism and holding meeting separately with the delegation of Sindh Chamber of Agriculture who called on him at CM house Karachi in the leadership of Syed Nadeem Qamar. During discussion in meeting, three member Ministerial committee for wheat marketing including Sindh Minister for Finance Syed Murad Ali Shah, Sindh Minister Health Jam Mehtab Dahar and Sindh Minister Excise & Taxation Giyan Chand Essrani briefed the meeting about the present market situation of wheat in the country. They were of the view that since the Punjab Govt has reduced price of wheat up to Rs 1280 per 40 kg , Sindh Govt is also required to reduce wheat price for competitive markeeting to dispose of present stock and enable food department to procure the wheat of coming crop, so that Grower may not suffer. The Sindh Minister for Excise & Taxation Giyan Chand Esrani said that a business party from other country has expressed its interest to purchase at least 1.5 MT wheat from Sindh Govt and added that provincial Food Deptt has spared this stock separately. Addressing the meeting the Chief Minister Sindh said that it was because of grower’s friendly policies of PPP Govt, that we are receiving bumper crops especially of wheat. He said that in order to protect the growers from market recession, the Sindh Govt is spending huge amount to procure wheat their production on increased support price, and again Sindh Govt is sustaining losses by reducing wheat price for its marketing and enabling to food Deptt: to purchase future crop of wheat from growers at support price he added. The Chief Minister Sindh stressed upon the 3 Member Ministerial Committee to work out and prepare such a mechanism by which we not only to meet out present market challenges but also to protect the rights of wheat / rice growers in future as well. The Chief Minister also asked the committee to co-ordinate the flour Mill owners and direct them not to market their substandard flour or indulge into the mixing the sub standard wheat which was the offense and warned that who so ever found involved in this offense will be taken to task. The Chief Secretary Sajjad Saleem Hotiyana, Secretary on Universities & Board Syed Mumtaz Shah, Secretary Food Saeed Awan, Secretary Finance Sohail Rajput, and Director Food Muhammad Bachal attended the meeting.
Meanwhile the Chief Minister Sindh Syed Qaim Ali Shah while talking the delegation of Sindh Chamber of Agriculture which called on him at CM House Karachi in the leadership of Dr. Nadeem Qamar prohibited the supply of Sugar cane from other provinces into the Sindh province on the demand of the grower’s body. The Chief Minister Sindh urged the Federal Govt to direct the TCP and PASCO to extend its business upto Sindh Province and also purchase the Agro products from the growers of Sindh at reasonable rates. He said that at present the growers of paddy growing area in Sindh were in difficult to export their production and Sindh Govt wants to provide relief to them. The Chief Minister Sindh directed the Distt Administration of concerned district to stop the sugar cane movement from other provinces into Sindh province, failing which action would be taken against them. While responding the growers demand about implementation on the price of Sugar Cane at the announced rate of Rs 182 per 40 Kg the Chief Minister Sindh said that he has decided the reasonable rate of Sugar cane in the interest of both side but the Mill owner have gone in the court at their own plea. He said that Sindh Govt would stand with growers of Sindh and assured for providing full help to them in litigation matters. Responding the matter of Rice production and its sale at reasonable rates the CM Sindh said that he had recently conducted the meeting with office bearers of Rice Export Association of Pakistan (REAP) at CM House and had assured them full support in exporting rice to other countries. The Reap members informed that they are working to increase the export volume of rice production to other countries, However the CM Sindh also urged upon the Federal Govt to direct the TCP and PASCO to purchase the Agro products from Sindh as well to protect the economic rights of the growers. The CM Sindh was of the view that whenever the PPP came into powers it always has provided the incentives to the growers. Nabi Bux Sattio General Secretary Sindh Chamber of Agriculture, Raees Ghulam Hassan Chachar VP upper Sindh , Zahid Hussain Bhurghari AGS, Syed Aijaz Nabi Shah VP, Qabool Khatyan, Syed Zulfiqar Ali Shah, Sardar Abud-u-rab pitafi and other members of SCA attended the meeting.

Dacca debacle due to depriving masses of constitutional rights
Pasban holds candlelight vigil to remembers of heroes of 1971 war, demands repatriation of stranded Pakistanis

Karachi, December 15: The Dacca Fall was the direct result of depriving masses of their constitutional rights and ignoring their genuine grievances, said the speakers of a candlelight vigil organized by Pasban e Pakistan to pay homage to the heroes of 1971 war, in front of Karachi Press Club (KPC) here Monday.
Speaking on the occasion, Pasban Pakistan General Secretary Usman Moazzam said had the then regime given due constitutional rights to the citizens of the then East Pakistan and seriously solved their geninue issue, the fall of Dacca could have been averted. He regretted the Pakistani rulers did not learn any lesson from the dismemberment of East Pakistan and even today the citizens are being deprived of their due constitutional rights. He said not only the rulers and establishment but the Pakistani political parties also did not learn any lesson from the Dacca Fall.
He said at the time of Dacca debacle, a dictator had been slapped upon the country. However, even after the great tragedy of the loss of East Pakistan and he was not made accountable. The establishment continued bringing their own people to rule the country through engineered elections and this fraud has been continuing till to date.
He said after the martyrdom of Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan, Pakistan braved grave tragedies like the Dacca Fall, humiliation of the national hero Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan, Lal Masjid tragedy, kidnapping of the daughter of the nation Dr Aafia Siddiqui and her 86-year imprisonment, murder of Nawab Akbar Bugti, carnage in Karachi and killing of innocent citizens in drone attacks in the periods of dictator and quoi-dictators that ruled the country.
He said on one hand the military dictators destroyed the national institutions and on the other corrupt politicians looted the national kitty and burdened Pakistan with huge foreign debts. He said the nation is waiting for a patriotic, brave and sincere alternate leadership.
Talking about the Dacca Fall, he said thousands of Pakistanis are still living in the refugee camps of Bangladesh and the rules are not ready to accept these genuine Pakistanis. He said the national heroes of the 1971 war who supported the Pakistan army in East Pakistan were also sadly forgotten and ignored.
Pasban Giziri chapter leader Salman Nawab said the new role of the judiciary and election commission of Pakistan is the ray of hope for Pakistani nation. He said if due to their efforts the nation gets a brave, honest and patriotic alternate political leadership the people of Pakistan would get the real freedom and the country would get its due status in the comity of nations.
On the occasion, the participants of the demo demanded from the government of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) to take serious steps for an early and honorable repatriation of the stranded Pakistanis from the refugee camps of Bangladesh.