Under the Freedom of Information laws, any citizen of Pakistan may obtain information/ records held by three tiers of Government, i.e. federal, provincial (so far Sindh and Balochistan) and district (local) government.
The information held by federal agencies is accessed under Freedom of Information Ordinance 2002.
The information relating to provincial agencies is accessed under respective provincial legislations. In this regard Sindh and Balochistan provinces have enacted their respective Freedom of Information legislations, while action on part of the Punjab and NWFP is still awaited.
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The Information relating to District Governments, Tehsil/Town administrations and Union Council Administrations can be accessed through Section 137 of Local Government Ordinance 2001.
In case of accessing information from the federal government agencies, following step-by-step guide may be followed:
1. In order to save yourself from unnecessary hassle, please ensure that the information/ records required by you are not already available in the public domain through websites, official gazette or in form of published reports etc.
2. Determine the agency, Department, Ministry etc to which your request for information relates. The details about federal government ministries, departments and agencies can be accessed through federal government web portal (http://www.pakistan.gov.pk).
3. Similarly, the provincial governments can be accessed on web through: Sindh (http://www.sindh.gov.pk), the Punjab (http://pportal.punjab.gov.pk), NWFP (http://www.nwfp.gov.pk), Balochistan (http://www.balochistan.gov.pk). In addition to them, several district governments have also their websites.
4. Obtain prescribed application form (copy available here also) and fill it properly, giving your name, address, phone number, Computerized National Identity Card (CNIC) number etc. It should also mention clearly name of the department/ agency from which the information is required.
5. Also write a letter/ application to the designated officer of the concerned agency (or the head of the agency, if there is no designated officer). The letter should elaborate in detail the nature of the required information/ records.
6. Deposit the prescribed fee of Rs. 50/- (for ten or less than ten pages) through any of the following ways: (a) depositing the amount with the cash branch of the respective department, (b) the State Bank of Pakistan, (c) the National Bank of Pakistan, or (d) Treasury under the following heads of account:
i) major head 1300000 other receipts
ii) minor head 1390000 other; and
iii) detailed head 1391221 fee payable for obtaining information and copies of public
7. If the volume of the required documents is more than ten pages, an amount of five rupees per page for more than ten pages would have to be deposited under the heads mentioned above. If the requested information is about any Board, Commission, Council or other public body, the fee/ charges should be deposited in their respective heads of account.
8. Place the duly filled and signed prescribed form (step 2), application/ letter (step 3) and fee-deposit-slip (step 4/5) in an envelope addressed to the official designated by the concerned public body (or head of the organization). On top of the envelope write clearly "Access to Information Request".
9. Carefully keep a copy of all the documents with yourself till the requested information has been made available to you or the matter stands finalized.
10. Under the law, if the application is complete in all respects, the department is under obligation to provide you the attested photocopies of the documents/ records required by you or to convey the rejection of your request, mentioning reasons for that act, within maximum time of 21 days.
11. In case the agency/ designated officials do not respond within stipulated period of time (21 days), you may file a complaint with the head of the organization. In accordance with the rues, the head of a public body has to dispose of the complaint within thirty days.
12. In case you find that (a) the information has not been provided within the prescribed time, or (b) the public body has refused to provide the requested information/record, or (c) the public body has failed to communicate you its decision within the prescribed time, you may file an appeal with the Wafaqi Mohtasib (Federal Ombudsman) or the Federal Tax Ombudsman, where the request relates to the Revenue Division on the following addresses.
Wafaqi Mohtasib Ombudsman's Secretariat,
Tel: 051-9201665-9; Fax No. 051-9210487,
Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO) Secretariat
State Enterprises Complex 5-A, Constitution Avenue,
Tel: 051-9212316 Fax: 051-9205553,
13. In case of provincial departments or district governments, the appeals are to be filed with the respective provincial Ombudsman (Mohtasib) Secretariats:
Sindh Provincial Ombudsman Secretariat,
Phone: +92-21-9211031,25,28 (PABX Ext: 200)
E-Mail: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org