• 07 March 2017

    According to a news item the Government has prepared Wafaqi Mohtasib Amendment Bill for curtailing the “powers” of Federal Ombudsman and establishing “District Ombudsmen”. Last month while ex-Ambassador and a senior analyst Zafar Hilaly was angry on this news, another ex-Ambassador Hafeez Javed last year in his 2-series column titled “بابے‘بیورو کریسی اور بیڈ گورننس “ stated that in the Federal Ombudsman office 60s above aged “ بابے “ were being recruited whereas this is the age when one forgets what he took that morning in the breakfast.

    1. On return from China the then Federal Ombudsman Syed Usman Ali Shah at the airport was shy that the Chinese Ombudsman could remove even a Minister and wished similar powers. The senior intellectual and writer Muno Bhai wrote a marvelous piece entitled “Angels don’t require powers”. Munoo Bhai used the word “angel” on the background that Justice Usman Ali Shah only a few days earlier had defended his purchase in violation of government ban a high capacity car. His premise was that he was not an angle and that his “minor” violation of law was being taken note of ignoring that he provided justice to masses. In the press conference he denied existence of any tape recorder in his newly purchased car. After the press conference when the reporters surrounded parked car and fingered through the windows towards the visibly installed tape recorder, the Ombudsman flew into rage threatening contempt action.

    2. Universally it is accepted that it were not written two lines called the rule, law or the procedure but the man on the chair who, if is God blessed with spirit of serving the humanity, delivered the justice. The Federal Ombudsman started working in 1983 under a Law called P.O.I of 1982. It barred the Ombudsman from complaints from government employees against their employers which technically and legally stand as service matters. Fortunately the man who came on the seat, Mr. Justice Sardar Muhammad Iqbal, was truly God fearing and public spirited. Remaining within the same written law he started taking pension complaints which were factually service related matters. He went to that extent that he ordered his staff to give top priority to pension cases. Recently the Punjab Ombudsman has “accepted” a directive and stopped processing of pension cases.

    3. No ombudsman needs more powers. The existing powers are enough. The only need is the right man on the seat. T&T did not provide my home a phone directory. I purchased it. Ombudsman Sardar Iqbal got this amount refunded to me without even asking for a proof of purchase. Reading words in my complaint that no directory was supplied in my area. Not just sitting in luxurious offices as is today, he deputed an official from his office to visit my area who visited 2-3 shops, 2-3 homes to find if they got the current directory. Today PTCL is not providing me phone directory since long. A year or so back I raised a formal complaint with the present day Ombudsman who very proudly claims handling millions of complaints. He did not even register my complaint for formal processing let alone direct PTCL to provide Directory not only to this aggrieved but also to his own (Ombudsman) office. This senior citizen has 46 years rich experience both in Pakistan and abroad. Justice Sardar Iqbal and Justice Aslam Riaz advised me repeatedly to remain in touch with their Secretariat as according to them this gave them feedback. Every official has an oath to honestly and dedicatedly serve and be custodian of public fund. All ombudsmen have taken a similar oath. Public has out of its resources provided telephone lines to Federal Ombudsman. Ombudsman is supposed to honestly to monitor expense of this fund. Telephone lines have been provided under an agreement that utility provider would provide a telephone directory free of cost. Ombudsman himself and the highly paid advisers consultants termed as بابے columnist-ambassador hired on hefty perks all know well that since years over years beneath the phone sets on their tables there is no telephone directory yet they sleep on their responsibility towards the public money. To this senior citizen it the act of “negligence” that they failed to take notice themselves. My complaint was rejected at the very first sight saying it was a complaint of general nature. One single subject namely “non provision of directory to this subscriber”. One man sitting on the chair provides if (through purchase) the other refused even to formally properly listen. Time changed or man change? PTCL actually is Etisalat and Etisalat is in Dubai. And Dubai is where lives Asif Ali Zardari, who owns property there and the Sindh Government remotely operates from there.

    4. Federal Ombudsman needs no more powers. Rather the whole ombudsman system needs completely shelved off. When the new birth of judiciary was in the offing, the slogan دھرتی ہوگی ماں کے جیسی was giving high hopes to this unfortunate nation. Believing on the big mouth of Justice ® Iftikhar Mohammed Choudhary, this senior citizen formally appealed him to de-establish the whole ombudsman system and use thus the saved money for public better by spending it on SC Human Rights Cell to enhance its activity to take up issues affecting larger segment of the suffering common man. I never got any response. Air Marshal Asghar Khan once said the Ombudsman had become employment exchange while a recent article read that the Ombudsman office has become shelter with huge perks for those having questionable background.

    5. I am 70 generally said to be the age with legs lying in the grave.  Knowing well the very next day I went to my last resting place, my burger generation family would throw out the old man filled katchera in the house; a 200 kgs clippings/copies, I have myself started daily shredding a little.  A few days back the shredded contained a 20 years old news clipping Justice ® Khaziqul Khari saying to his audience that now those are appointed as ombudsmen who either have no legal background or lack knowledge.  2011 the “ombudsman system” was reformed.  From day one this senior citizen had doubt any true practical reformation success reason being it had an ingredient of “world bank donations”. [The other day talking generally on terrorism and legal prosecution of accused terrorist, senior journalist Iktishamul Haq talking with Dr. Furruk Saleem referring to 2003-4 US$300m donation for judicial reform said that was “کھایا گیا “].  Under this so-called reforms, the Appeals against ombudsmen decisions rested with the President of Pakistan. Till today March 2017) the Banking Mohtasib does not know about it and he still advises appeals against his orders were to be addressed to the SBP.  Two years under his office advice, I filed an appeal with SBP which returned it advising me to file that with the President.  In meantime 30 days appeal limit for me expired.
    6. Idea of District Ombudsmen is nothing but to create new jobs to meet the ever increasing need of keeping allied happy. None in the forefront, none, is really honest to prevail “عدل " . If by any remotest chance one is, then trace the right man not “my man” or the so called reforms, more powers, more new offices. This nation has many Sardar Iqbal, Aslam Riaz Hussains and S.M. Munir alike.