The right to know is a fundamental right belonging to citizens in a democracy. The people of Pakistan are also keen to know about several facts, which have been buried by the ruling elite for various reasons. People want to read the Hamoodur Rahman Commission Report to know the real reasons behind ‘Fall of Dhaka,’ as a result of which Pakistan broke into two states- Pakistan and Bangladesh. In 2000, some parts of the report were published in foreign and local newspapers, and people expected that they would get the full report, but that never happened as the government at the time had marked it as top secret.
The people of Pakistan also want to read the Abbotabad Commission Report regarding Osama bin Laden’s presence and the killings in Abbotabad. The concerned citizens of Pakistan are anxious to know how OBL reached Abbottabad, how he managed to stay a few kilometers away from Pakistan’s largest military Academy, and if Pakistan was genuinely unaware of the US operation to hunt OBL or was it done with the consent of the military and civil leadership? Despite all these questions, the report could not be made public and remains classified.
Pakistanis are also anxiously waiting for Justice Baqir Najafi’s Report about the Model Town Tragedy in which police killed at least 14 activists of Pakistan Awami Tehrik, including two women, in June 2014. Lahore High Court has ordered the Punjab Government to make the report public, which has not happened till date. However, the Punjab Government may produce the report in front of the Lahore High Court in a few days.
Likewise, the citizens of Pakistan want to know the contents of Volume 10 of the Joint Investigation Team, that probed into the Panama Leaks Scandal against former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his children. The JIT submitted 10 volumes of its report to the Supreme Court of Pakistan with a request that Volume 10 is highly sensitive and should not be made public. This request is a direct violation of the peoples’ right to know.
The ‘curious to know’ bunch in Pakistan were quite happy when three provinces; Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Sindh, and the federal government passed the ‘Right to Information’ laws. They believed that they could get their hands on this information through the these laws, which were nothing more than mere illusions. The process of acquiring information under these RTI laws is too complicated for an ordinary citizen. These laws do not provide access to classified information. Whenever information regarding an institution or an important leader is sought under these laws, the declassified information is declared classified and the applicant is refused.
In a situation such as this, these laws are useless and weaken the concept of the ‘Rule of Law’ which is a system meant to govern a nation. In fact, the people of Pakistan are being ruled by the ‘Law of Rulers’, and the ‘rulers’ include politicians, generals, bureaucrats and judges. The political and socio-economic situation in Pakistan further changes the definition of democracy from ‘government of the people, by the people and for the people’ into ‘government of the rulers, by the rulers and for the rulers.’