ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Information Commission has directed Cabinet Division to share details with the complainant about the gifts retained by the Prime Minister Imran Khan within 10 working days.
The Pakistan Information Commission (PIC), through a verdict, has also directed the Cabinet Division to share the same information on the website under the Section 5 of the Right of Access to Information Act, 2017.
According to details, Rana Abrar Khalid, a local resident, had approached the Cabinet Division to get information about gifts received by the Prime Minister Imran Khan from foreign heads of state, governments & other foreign dignitaries from 18 August 2018 to 31 October 2020.
The appellant also requested the specification of each gift retained by the Prime Minister and the Rules under which these gifts are retained by the Prime Minister.
However, the applicant didn’t receive the requested information from the Cabinet Division and approached the PIC.
In pursuance of the appeal filed by the citizen, the Commission issued a notice to the designated officer of the Cabinet Division and directed to submit reasons for not providing the requested information.
Cabinet Division in response to the notice issued by PIC refused to share the requested information and claimed that the requested information is classified matter and cannot be shared with the appellant under Section-7(f) & clause 16(ii) of Right of access to Information Act.
The Commission in its order has observed that cabinet division has not provided any reasons to exempt the requested information from disclosure in the instant. However, in an other appeal titled “Waseem Elahi VS Cabinet Division”, on the identical issue, the public body submitted that requested information is sensitive as gifts are exchanged between the Heads of States and Heads of Governments to give personal touch to inter-state relations; and disclosure of such information could create media hype and resulted in unwarranted stories, thus potentially damaging the interest of Pakistan in the conduct of international relations and jeopardizing inter-state relations.
PIC observed that when certified information about these gifts will be made available in the public domain for everyone to see, citizen of Pakistan will know that the gifts received on their behalf are being properly managed. Availability of the certified information about the gifts deposited in ‘Tosha Khana’ in public domain will not only make the entire process about the management of these gifts open and transparent, it will contribute to reducing trust-deficit between citizens and public institutions contributed by opacity and secretive ways of functioning of public institutions. Even citizens of the states on whose behalf gifts are received by our elected representatives and public officials will come to know that their gifts are properly managed, resultantly strengthening people-to-people and inter-state relations.
Certified requested information will dispel rumours about the reporting of the gifts to ‘Tosha ‘Khana’ by the public officials and their retention price and which elected representative or public official retained which gift at what price, Order states.
The seven pages verdict also directs the Cabinet Division to put Rules under which gits are retained by the recipients on the website along with all categories of information mentioned in Section 5 of the Right of Access to Information Act 2017 and submit the compliance report to the commission within 10 working days.