ISLAMABAD - Pakistan needs a comprehensive citizen-centric information policy and the Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Reforms should expand the scope of article 19 to include citizens right to know. Also, journalism schools and professional media training institutes should embed the concept of access to information and active citizenship in their curricula. These suggestions were made during a lively discussion among the members of civil society and heads of schools of journalism during a roundtable conference on Freedom of Information in Pakistan, arranged by Centre for Civic Education Pakistan here on Sunday. Freedom of Information (FOI) appears to be a confusing expression, said Sajjad Paracha and suggested to rename it as 'Public Access to Documents and Records. Our media schools needed to be compatible with contemporary market requirements along with adhering to the nation-building mission of the media, he said. A new Pakistan is emerging amid new freedoms, but terrorism is a major hurdle in the way to a better future, said Dr Wasim Akbar, while Dr Zafar Iqbal advocated for proactive information regime by using the possibilities of e-governance. Speakers also urged for increasing constitutional literacy to make the citizens contract with the state more meaningful. We need bottom-up approach to realise the citizens right to know and institutionalise access to information culture at a local level, said Mustafa Nazir. The paradigms of civic and development journalism were the need of the hour in order to get rid of protocol journalism, said Dr Rafia Taj. Talk shows are just one genre whereas the vibrant electronic media has many more aspects, as media has the capacity to shape public opinion and perceptions, and it should play its role in raising awareness regarding civic issues, Dr Rafia added. The participants regarded the citizens right to know as a best fence against corruption and to safeguard the interests of the people. However, in Pakistan, people are not sensitised about the effectiveness of this right and they continue to suffer from bad governance, said Zafarullah Khan and asked the media to come forward to educate people about the power of their right to know and bring about healthy social and democratic change in society. Dr Syed Abdul Siraj said that it was ironic that not only common man of the country was unaware about FOI law, but the media professionals also show little interest to retrieve information through this tool. In countries where the access to information laws are effectively implemented, one can see the rule of law, peace and progress in the society, he added. FM radios at universities could play an effective role in this regard, said Dr Syed Abdul Siraj. The ethical and moral values of journalism also came under discussion during the conference and the participants highlighted the need for training and capacity building of journalists as well as the importance of introducing civic and community journalism courses. The participants of the conference shared the hope that the civil society, academia and media industry would join hands to improve the current sorry state of the affairs with coordinated efforts, especially to educate the people of Pakistan regarding how to exercise their basic rights including retrieving information through the FOI law. Prominent among the participants were Dr Syed Abdul Siraj (Allama Iqbal Open University), Dr Rafia Taj (Karachi University), Dr Muhammad Nawaz Mehsud (University of Sargodha), Dr Waseem Akbar, (Gomal University), Dr Zafar Iqbal (International Islamic University), Sajjad Paracha (Islamia University Bahawalpur), Dr Shamim Zaidi (Fatima Jinnah Women University), Salma Umber (G C University Faisalabad), Musatfa Nasir (University of Gujrat), Murtaza Noor (Higher Education Commission), Fauzia Shaheen (Women Media Centre), Abrar Hafeez (Consumers Rights Commission), Adnan Rehmat (Intermedia) and Zafarullah Khan (Centre for Civic Education).