By Naeem Sadiq
In September 2009 I wrote to two Sindh government departments seeking harmless information on matters of education and pollution that should anyway be available to all citizens. I was confident that a formal request under the much trumpeted and much ‘seminar’ed Freedom of Information Act will do the trick. The law requires a response within 21 days. When nothing happened for 4 months, in Jan 2010, I approached the Sindh Ombudsman (as suggested in the law) to ask the concerned departments to do the needful.
After digesting my request for 3 months, the Sindh Ombudsman finally asked the concerned departments (Education and Environmental Protection Agency) to appear and explain why they did not provide the information that had been asked for. I too was asked to appear.
So I spent the 1st of April (like a fool) in the Ombudsman’s office, hoping that the real culprits would make an appearance. Nobody turned up and the helpless Ombudsman gave a new date of April 6, for all parties to appear again.
On 6th April I wasted another day waiting in the Ombudsman’s office, but again neither department put in an appearance.
Clearly I was now being given a taste of my own medicine. The Ombudsman could keep calling. I could keep appearing. The departments violating the freedom of information Act could keep not turning up. Life could keep going on as normal. Continue reading