KHANEWAL: Punjab Information Commission (PIC) held an awareness session with journalists in collaboration with the district information office in the forte hotel, situated in Khanewal. The additional deputy commissioner general (ADCG) Manzoor Ahmad Khan Chandiaya and district Bar association president Ajmal Bhutta were guests of honour. Under Article 19A of the Constitution, Right to Information (RTI) is a fundamental right of citizens of Pakistan. Executive director Ahmad Naeem briefed journalists and said that RTI empowers citizens with oversight, ensures transparency in governance and improves public services by allowing public to participate. The Punjab government enacted the Punjab Transparency and RTI Act 2013, to facilitate the implementation of fundamental right of information to the general public. The law describes comprehensive definition of information, and defines which government entities need to disclose information, the matter they need to reveal and information that can be exempted. The law requires public bodies to arrange the systems and personnel for record management to allow access by the general public. The law empowers citizens to collect information from public bodies, together with the procedure of requesting information and its timeline. It specifies grievance redress mechanism when required information is not allowed access to. In his address, Manzoor Ahmad said that RTI is based upon the principle that information belongs to the general public. He emphasised that RTI enhances transparency, which strengthens accountability, reduces corruption and improves public services. District Information Officer Salman Khalid said that RTI enables accountability of public office holders. “Many activities or incidents would be kept hidden if RTI had not empowered you,” he said. Salman Khalid expressed his gratitude to PIC and Ahmad Naeem to organise ‘informative and interactive’ learning session for the journalists and the general public. Renowned journalists including Anjum Bashir Ahmad, Qulzam Bashir Ahmad, Syed Shafqat Ali Shah, Ch Khalid Mehmood, Manzoor Hussain Bhatti, Ali Imran Qureshi, Muhammad Javid Khan, Muhammad Javid Gujjar, Javid Mustaf, Imtiaz ali Asad, Ahmad Kamal Ch, J Chacha Arshad Awan, Muhammad Ikram Qureshi and Muhammad Akmal were present on the occasion. Published in Daily Times, April 30th 2018.