LAHORE: Senior journalist Rana Abrar Khalid’s request for information on gifts received by the prime minister from foreign governments has been blocked repeatedly by the Cabinet Division on the grounds that such information is classified. The HRCP has expressed concern over it.
“This contravenes the Right to Information Act 2017. We have also received credible reports that Khalid may be under surveillance by state agencies, including an underhand attempt to enter his house on false pretext, allegedly in connection with his RTI matter. We are now seriously concerned for his personal safety. This continuing pattern of harassing journalists and suppressing what is rightfully public information must cease immediately,” the HRCP statement said.
In June 2021, PIC issued a show-cause notice on failure to comply with the order to the deputy secretary of the Cabinet Division. In July 2021, the deputy secretary appeared before the PIC but continued to obstruct the RTI. Khalid submitted another application to the PIC, but the deputy secretary replied that the Cabinet Division has consulted the Law and Justice Division, which supports the former’s contention. In September 2021, the Cabinet Division filed an appeal in the Islamabad High Court against the PIC’s January 2021 decision. In October 2021, date was fixed to hear Khalid’s petition. On December 8, 2021, court hearing was scheduled.