Citizen participation is considered as one of the hall marks
of democracy dating far back into early forms of representative government.
Participation are means used by the public to have their voices and ideas
included in decision making in matters affecting their livelihoods1. It aims
to bridge the gap between citizens and governments by providing avenues through
which citizens are engaged in public decision making, avenues by which
information is disseminated to them and avenues by which they engage the
government in meaningful consultations. Citizen participation is a form of
participatory democracy and indeed many governments across the world strive to
Milakovich notes that participatory democracy implies
citizens being involved in governmental decision making and should be
encouraged and expected3. He notes that citizen participation exists in
various forms including providing information to citizens and getting
information from them, involving citizens in public decision making and
providing means for citizen consultation4.
Public participation is a political principle that lies at
the heart of the Constitution of Pakistan 2010. The constitution provides
various regulations that serve to ensure citizen participation is upheld5.
The Constitution in Article 35 grants allows citizens by virtue of right to
access information held by state agencies. With information from the state it
follows that citizens will be more aware of government activities, the services
it offers, how public utilities and monies are spent and many others. The
constitution also requires that counties promote participation in all processes
within a county6.
When ICTs are used to promote citizen participation, the new
concept is referred to as Electronic participation (E-participation). ICT is
viewed as having the ability to empower people in relation to citizen
participation. E-participation allows individuals who cannot access the
government agencies and public officials for purposes of getting information,
giving information and making their voices heard or influencing decision making
to do so7. These individuals, who in the traditional forms of participation
e.g. public meetings were considered to be otherwise invisible and silent, get
an opportunity to be visible and to be heard. E-participation therefore has the
potential to reveal the diversity of the society voice and range of opinions.
This potential benefit of e-participation is the driving factor for its
adoption by various countries8.