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Techno Spying: The Art of Whistleblowing and Its Consequences in Pakistan

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Who could have thought Edward Snowden, the whistleblower who created ripples globally last year, would be nominated for Nobel Peace Prize 2014?

Snowden's leaks proved that the National Security Agency (NSA) was spying on ordinary U.S. citizens and tapping their phone calls along with gathering their personal data that is available on multiple social media websites.

Not only is the U.S. prying on ordinary citizens, but those countries who it considers as its allies are also being closely watched.

People from various parts of the world have been of different opinions with regard to Snowden's case. Those who are of the opinion that the computer specialist did a favor to them, think that what Snowden did is right democratically, after all it is the people's right to know what their government is up to.

The government of Pakistan has introduced the Right to Information (RTI) under Article 19-A in 2010. According to this law, any citizen of Pakistan has the right to access information that is of public interest. Ranging from the privileges the public officials enjoy to the making of the budget, any information that concerns the public can be demanded by an individual.

Now the question that comes to mind is whether this is favorable for a turmoil-stricken country like Pakistan, where the slightest twist can bring about a drastic response from the public.

The RTI has been implemented by two of Pakistan's provinces, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). Those individuals who wish to get access to information, do not have to pay any amount to get their hands on it nor can they be rejected by the officials allocated for the job. In the case of a delay in providing the relevant data, the public information officer will have to pay a fine.

Also, in the case of whistleblowers, the government of KP has set rules for their protection.
For people living in Pakistan, this law can prove to be very beneficial to bring about positive changes in the way our government runs. When the bureaucrats will know that they can easily be questioned by the public as every act of theirs can be monitored by them, they will try to end their corrupt practices.

Overall, the system on a whole can improve tremendously, once the higher authority has in mind that every move of theirs is being closely watched.

But let us consider thinking out of the box. What if another Snowden is given birth in a society which has recently introduced the RTI law? Can the government handle the pressure which is bound to emanate from a society that is volatile?

A country that is suffering from countless myriads from ethnic crisis, terrorism to unemployment, sectarian clashes and the surge in poverty levels to name a few from the list.

In such a sensitive period that Pakistan is going through, the effects of an act of whistleblowing is unprecedented.

An individual who wishes to follow Snowden's footsteps in the future will absolutely have no idea how the people will react to the information he leaks.

It can prove very costly for Pakistan if, for instance the information that an individual plans to bring to the public's notice is about terrorists and their activities. This will not please the extremists which might result in grave circumstances.

Or let's say if information regarding any of the political parties or intelligence agencies that play a crucial part in the governance of the country, are brought into the limelight can create a lot of chaos. The leaked information will definitely not please those who are related to it.

However, any document or data that highlights the wrongdoings of those belonging to the ruling class can definitely bring fruitful results.