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Published Date: Aug 30, 2013

SDPI Press Release (August 30, 2013)

Effective implementation of ‘Right to Information Act’ is
the most effective way to address corruption in countries such as Pakistan.

This was discussed in a session
on ‘Citizens against Corruption’ organized by Sustainable Development Policy
Institute (SDPI) here on Friday.  The
session featured sharing of SDPI research findings and recommendations compiled
in a bid to find ways to address corruption from the state institutions.

Fayyaz Yasin, Research Associate,
SDPI briefed participants on SDPI research carried out on engaging citizens
against corruption. He discussed the power of social accountability tools and
informed that ‘Right to Information coupled with participatory governance has
radically improved governance throughout the world, especially in developing
countries including India.

He termed the recent Right to
Information bills in Pakistan as a positive milestone in achieving the goal of good
governance in Pakistan.
  He particularly
appreciated the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa RTI which according to him, has scored 143
points out of possible count of 150, considered essential for an effective RTI
ACT.

Citing report on anti-corruption
structures in Pakistan, he said that ‘state accountability mechanisms’ have
failed to deliver, arguing that,
  even
anti-corruption agencies have now been involved in rent seeking behavior. There
is now need to invoke citizens led ‘social accountability’ approaches where
citizens must have to come forward and hold public representatives accountable,
he added.

He envisaged an increased and effective role
of civil society organizations to equip citizens with necessary skills and
tools for vigilant monitoring of public institutions in order to stop abuse and
misuse of public power.

He even went a step further and proposed
citizens to check their parliamentary representatives by looking at how
effective they were in protecting citizens right in parliament, their
attendance and number of legislation they got approved. Similarly he asked
anti-corruption agencies such as NAB, FIA
and AGPR to place their reports and findings of major scams for open
public consumption so that corrupt people can easily be identified. He also
vowed for more proactive dissemination of information especially on websites to
ensure greater public scrutiny.

Fayyaz Yasin
concluded that governments would eventually perform well if citizens strongly
demand transparency. However, he also conceded that popular mass movements can
change regimes but reform momentum is hard to sustain and needs a strong
continuous citizen engagement. He also ruled out imported accountability
structures that are imposed from abroad, and said that a movement within could
bring positive changes in society.