Open Government Partnership: Beginning or a Dead End?

Open Government Partnership: Beginning or a Dead End?

It is rightly said that Progress first requires a step to be taken. But unfortunately, it seems that the government is missing all the basic steps to reach the highest place in producing the long overdue National Action Plan (NAP) for Open Government Partnership. To brief a little, Open Government Partnership is a contract signed by Pakistan in December 2016 which focused on four major ideologies i.e. transparency, citizen engagement, right to information & assets declaration respectively. To put the said initiative into achievement, a National Action Plan was to be submitted by Pakistan to boost these ideologies and tackle the issues highlighted in the aforementioned areas. To sum up, NAP is to OGP as oxygen for open government and democracy. National Action Plan is a support system which, at this point in a developing and democratic country like Pakistan, is urgently needed so that a mutual understanding between the government and the citizens could be established through which plans and policies of the government could be executed in a better way. But unluckily, the only consistency seen whilst December 2016 to date is missing the deadlines in putting forward the National Action Plan (NAP). One more aspect which needs an immediate attention by the Finance Misinster Asad Umer and Economic Affair Division (EAD) is the theme of Public Officials Asset Disclosure which has been overlooked in the Open Government Partnership (OGP). It is equivalent important for the public officials to disclose their income and properties so that the citizens would be able to access the data in order to satisfy their skeptical thoughts of any public body acquiring or using those assets for their personal use. Moreover, the Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) progress report published officially by OGP depicts an utter failure in making commitments and implementations in terms of the themes and areas which are needed to be focused on in Pakistan. NAP which puts a question mark on the performance of Pakistan’s Economic Affairs Division (EAD) in this regard as compared to other countries. Despite the fact that the new ruling party “Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf” has always focused upon the core elements stated in Open Government Partnership but it is seen that its physical implementation is being constantly overlooked. This befalls a concern upon the people of Pakistan and raises a question that does the government really wants to get the citizens of Pakitan involved in OGP process. If so, then why it is delaying the National Action Plan and further process to be carried out? Why is the government overlooking the civic engagement when their manifesto highly revolves around providing the rights to a layman to be able to hold the government or any higher authority accountable? All in all, it can be concluded that the more speedy action would be taken for this pending commitment, the more trustworthy environment shall be developed between the government and the citizens of Pakistan as accountability and disclosure are the main tools through which integrity of a nation could b achieved. Let’s hope that more concrete steps would be taken in providing the National Action Plan and the collaboration of major stakeholders, government and Ministry of Finance, Revenue & Economic Affairs will take place for attaining “New Pakistan” from the scratch. Otherwise, any additional pending commitments would make the citizens, precisely the youth of Pakistan to lose trust in the New Vision which has been promised to them by the Government.