March 18, 2022 (Islamabad): Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) urges the Government of Pakistan to take immediate measures to rejoin the Open Government Partnership (OGP), which has withdrawn Pakistan’s membership status after keeping it inactive for one year. Even after submitting 25,000 USD Annual Subscription Fee in 2017, Pakistan was unable to adhere to the requirement of submitting National Action Plan. Pakistan missed four (04) deadlines for submitting the National Action Plan, which demonstrated sheer non-seriousness and lack of commitment to transparency governance and international commitments.
OGP is a multilateral forum, which provides an “international platform for domestic reformers committed to make their governments more open, accountable and responsive to the citizens.” It was launched in 2011 and 76 countries have joined till date. Its aim is to secure concrete commitments from the governments to promote transparency, empower citizens and fight corruption. Pakistan joined OGP, when the then Finance Minister, Mr. Ishaq Dar, presented the Letter of Intent during the OGP Global Forum held in Paris in December 2016. The next step, after joining the OGP, was to make a National Action Plan for 2 years to demonstrate its commitment that the Government of Pakistan will open up public sector institutions public participation and accountability. These commitments were to be discussed and finalized on a forum jointly represented by government and civil society.
In 2017, the Economic Affairs Division had formed an interim multi-stakeholder forum to finalize the National Action Plan for Open Government Partnership. The 21 members’ forum consisted of representatives from provincial departments, federal ministries, Gilgit-Baltistan and Government of Azad Jammu and Kashmir and six (6) civil society organizations. The multi stakeholder forum developed an initial NAP that included nine national and six sub-national OGP commitments. After its development, the NAP was to be formally approved by the cabinet prior to its submission to the OGP secretariat, but this never happened.
While commenting on the withdrawal of Pakistan’s OGP membership, Mukhtar Ahmed Ali, Executive Director CPDI, said that: “It is highly irresponsible on the part of the Government that it failed in submitting the NAP, despite repeated deadlines. It is ironic that it has happened during the tenure of the PTI led government, which claims to be committed to the cause of transparent and accountable governance. It failed to act even after the OGP suspended Pakistan’s membership in 2020 and kept its inactive status for 1 year.” He added that the withdrawal of OGP membership status would not reflect well on Pakistan, and would weaken efforts within the country towards more participatory governance. It may be noted that CPDI has been a member of the multi-stake holder forum developed under the OGP; and has been repeatedly urging the government to develop NAP through a number of letters and press releases.
CPDI calls upon the Government to initiate efforts to re-join the OGP in view of the fact that the ruling party, PTI, had committed in its manifesto to empower citizens to take charge of their lives and provide transparent, effective, and free of corruption governance. Unfortunately, that commitment remains unfulfilled, as it is evident from the withdrawal of Pakistan’s OGP status.