Efforts to raise awareness among the ruling elite are needed in order to foster understanding, especially for those involved in governance and direct dealings with the public, that they are here to govern and not to rule. Governance is an organic evolutionary process based upon the participatory principles of sharing rights and responsibility between those at the helm and those whom they are to govern or serve. But how do we get there? A good place to start is by placing the responsibility on those who control power to raise awareness among the masses of the meaning of information and its proper use in terms of rights and responsibilities. The former will therefore be in control of a process that is ultimately emancipatory in nature. And in this way will they come to understand that no power is lost during the process of information sharing. The government already provides for such a structure. The RTI places Public Information Officers (PIOs) in every department. These are responsible for ensuring the granting of information to any individual regarding the particular government divisions they represent. The problem, however, is that the PIO is not usually a full-time role. Meaning that for most of the time it is simply an additional responsibility, not considered entirely important in and of itself. It is imperative that the PIO has a permanent position within the structure where he or she has access to information. For this will bring to an end the ad hoc nature of the job. Usually those heading public relations or legal departments are called upon to assume the role of PIO in relevant bureaus. Thus the very nature of the job at once becomes image building as well as defence of the division, respectively. The false secrecy-publicity dichotomy is incompatible with participatory transparency. There is a need to eliminate this conflict. The role of public relations and legal personnel is rather to drive home the importance of RTI among the professionals in their respective organisations. This, naturally, necessitates training and capacity building programmes that include on-the-spot training, organised trainings through authority, and development of sustained knowledge bases that include small posters and brochures, as well as more extensive study material. Also required is research with the input of these same professionals. This would afford them a deeper understanding of the challenges of implementing RTI, while also fostering a greater sense of the benefits of the structures. For no capacity can be built unless the agents of change first understand the fundamental nature of the process. Change comes with the belief in a given system. And this can never be realised through drawing room science. The beneficiaries of the process – the people – need awareness about RTI. It is equally important to understand the don’ts as well as the dos. This is the difference between ‘digging up dirt’ on someone in order to make them feel uncomfortable and requesting specific information. The former represents an abuse of the RTI. Indeed, it is counter-productive and violates the very spirit of democracy. A genuine sense of grievance or need is required to file a complaint. Since this is almost entirely a question of subjectivity – it can be best answered through a process of awareness. Specific areas pertaining to RTI ought to be incorporated into all levels of education. Much homework is needed to decide upon the inclusion of awareness markers within the education system. Thus academic involvement starting from the primary level and going right up to the highest rungs of the educational ladder needs to be adjusted. Holding flashy events at posh hotels and parading individuals as if they are showpieces in a bid to flaunt success is not the right way to go about things. Field visits, Instagram snaps, Facebook debates and Twitter wars cannot hope to change a society mired in ignorance and inequality A continuous effort through the use of traditional mainstream media, aided by social media, will be needed to accomplish the task of mass awareness, public debate to create a broader understanding of the role of RTI in participatory democracy based on informed decision making, the means and ways of accessing information or to exercise the right to information in a constructive manner, and many other relevant issues. A holistic communication strategy with synergies at both the participant and methodological levels is needed to successfully develop a socio-cultural ownership of RTI. And last but not least, there is need to avoid the duality approach: the government versus people. This is a position adopted by the development sector, international non-governmental organisations and local activists. Yet the RTI is a system that only becomes viable if the government is on board. As the present experience shows the latter appears keen to implement RTI. It will not be a perfect system – this doesn’t even exist at the global level. What is therefore required is to accept the need for change, extending the right to question and remain informed. Progress will not come overnight. And when it does – it will not represent a victory for anyone. This, sadly, is the prism through which poorly trained and less informed development sector enthusiasts view progress. Meaning that they consider each and every step of the way a victory for them, for their so-called ideals, and by contrast a defeat for the government. They need to have the record set straight for them. Given that the small urban enthusiasts have very little idea of on the ground realities in Pakistan. For the most part they are bound by their own interests or by those of their organisations. It is thus important that they learn the reality of socio-cultural dynamics. Holding flashy events at posh hotels and parading individuals as if they are showpieces in a bid to flaunt success is not the right way to go about things. Field visits, Instagram snaps, Facebook debates and Twitter wars cannot hope to change a society mired in ignorance and inequality. Much more patience and prudence are needed to weather the storm of ignorance. Pettiness won’t help. But character surely will! The writer holds a PhD from the Institute of KMW, University of Leipzig, Germany. He has had a long career as a working journalist and trainer. Currently, he is Professor of Journalism at the University of Peshawar. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Published in Daily Times, September 2nd 2017.