ISLAMABAD   -   The first ever National Forum of Information Commissioners (NFIC) has been established in Pakistan after federal and all provincial information commissioners gathered here to discuss the challenges being faced by public to get information from government bodies under relevant right to information (RTI) laws.

The forum consists of all in-service information commissioners from federal, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Sindh. With regular meetings and learning from each other, the forum will make a joint effort for a transparent and accountable regime in Pakistan

The Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI), a not-for-profit civil society organization, laid foundation of the national forum in Islamabad- a move that is being described as a historic achievement in the RTI (right to information) history of the country.

The two-day inaugural meeting of NFIC concluded on Friday, here in Islamabad. The meeting was attended by the information commissioners from Pakistan Information Commission (Federal), Punjab Information Commission, KP RTI Commission and Sindh Information Commission.

All the commissioners welcomed the idea of a joint forum of information commissioners in Pakistan and pledged to learn from each other’s experiences. The commissions shared their progress, success stories, issues, challenges faced while implementing RTI laws in their jurisdictions.

Several issues were also discussed including non-allocation of financial resources, lack of administrative support from government, delay in finalizing the working rules and subsequent shortage of staff, resistance in disclosing information and colonial mindset of public bodies etc.

At the end, all information commissioners agreed that culture of secrecy and colonial mindset was prevalent in Pakistan. Transparency, good governance with maximum disclosure and better service delivery can only achieved with the bona fide implementation of RTI laws in Pakistan.

A declaration was also signed by the commissioners where they pledged to ensure access to information in the service of people without any fear of favour.