One day workshop on strengthening of Ombuds System was organized by the Governance Support Project. The staff and office of Provincial Ombudsman Balochistan acted as co-organizer of the programme.
Prominent participants among the others were Mr. Abdul Rauf Chaudhray Federal Tax Ombudsman, Sardar Mukhtar Khan Ombudsman Azad Kashmir, Mrs. Nasreen Ayub Chief Commissioner Child Rights Punjab, Justice (R) Nadir Khan Durani and Religious Scholar Qari Anwar-ul-Haq Haqani, who spoke at the occasion. The programme was formally commenced with the recitation from the versus of Holy Quran.
First of all Provincial Ombudsman Balochistan Mr. Muhammad Wasay Tareen highlighted the historical background of Ombuds System and attributed in to the era of Orthodox Caliph Hazrat Umar (R.A) and gave instances from his reign about distribution of war bounty. The Ombudsman shared with the audience that since its inception in 2001, Mohtasib Secretariat has received more than 14000 complaints and most of these have been disposed of and further elaborated that majority of the complaints are against Education Department that pertain to the non-availability of teachers in Government Schools and if the teachers are available then the buildings have been occupied by the influential people. The Ombudsman Secretariat is striving hard to make sure the presence of teachers and to vacate the buildings from the encroachers.
Other complaints against Education Department are appointment of teachers against the merit and non-payment of scholarship to the deserving students.
It was pointed out that Health Department ranks second against which the large number of complaints are received.
Similarly, the main complaint of the people is non-availability of doctors in Hospitals and Basic Health Units, due to which people suffer at large. The Ombudsman told the audience that in a complaint filed by the aggrieved people of a certain area where despite existence of Hospital Building, availability of doctors and para-medical staff, surgery could not carry out due to defective machine of anesthesia and people suffered to a great deal. Due to this trifling matter operations had not been carried out for two years. Taking cognizance of the matter, the machine was arranged and the hospital started working properly.
The Ombudsman pointed about another issue of non-registration of private hospitals with the Health Department, even then the hospitals functioning in the provincial capital were not enlisted till 2014. Upon the directives of the Ombudsman Secretariat the Health Department carried out the task and registered the private hospitals which is necessary and helpful for collecting data about the issues relating to the Health Sector. Now a board comprising of the Health Department Officers and representatives from area and social society, look after the issue of Registration of the Hospitals.
In his speech, the Ombudsman referred to the dilapidated condition of jails and also informed the participants of workshop about the Suo-Moto actions taken by the Honorable Supreme Court of Pakistan regarding amelioration of the Jail Conditions, where the Ombudsman Offices have been made as parties.
Elaborating the conditions of jails, it was told that there are 32 Districts in Balochistan Province and there are only 11 Jails, rest of the prisoners are kept in the Judicial Lockups, which are looked after and maintained by the Police Department. It is note worthy that as per statute after fourteen days the culprits are to be sent on Judicial Remand to Jail, but in Judicial Lockups the inmates are on the helm of Police personnels, which are party in Criminal Cases, therefore, keeping the prisoners in the custody of police, has no justification and the prisoners confront mal-treatment in shape of sever condition in these lockups. There were 83 inmates in Pishin Judicial Lockup and living a miserable life due to the absence of basic facilities admissible to them as per law.
During the visit of Ombudsman Office team it was brought in to the notice by the Prisoners of one barrack who were eight in number that in the month of Ramazan, Police Personnel used to give them just one bottle of water on the time of breaking the fast. If the anomalies in the system are scrutinized then the root cause of the evil reveals the corruption of the officials. As result of Provincial Mohtasib Secretariat consistent pursuit of matter with Home Department of Balochistan, the lockup has been converted into Jail and relevant staff has been deputed to look after the prisoners as per law.
The miserable condition of Loralai Jail depicted gloomy picture of inhumane treatment with the prisoners. The jail building was very out dated due to which prisoners were facing the hardships of cold and hot weather. Steps were not being taken to improve the pathetic condition of Jail Building on the pretext that new jail building is going to be constructed in near future. Provincial Ombudsman office visiting team took the notice of maltreatment and was instrumental to get approved a generator and room cooling machines for the prisoners till the new jail is constructed and the prisoners took a sigh of relief.
The participants were apprised that due to the efforts of Ombudsman Secretariat necessary law for keeping the minor prisoners in borstal institute was constituted and accordingly there should be a borstal institution in every district but initiative has been taken by earmarking 25 Acres land in Provincial Capital for the establishment of first such like institution that will invariably ameliorate the condition of Juvenile Prisoners. In the end of his speech the Ombudsman extol the efforts of Governance Support Project for installing CMIS System in the Ombudsman Secretariat, providing a Toll-Free Number that will help the complainants to know the update of their cases and also extending its support in establishment of complaint receiving desks in every district of Balochistan.
Religious Scholar Qari Anwar-ul-Haq Haqqani analyzed the Ombuds System in the purview of Islamic Teaching and history and quoted the verse from Holy Quran saying that “do justice when you decide the issues between the people”. He told that though the Prophets are innocent and clean from all kinds of sins, yet on the eve of Badr war, one of his companions complained to be hurt by the prophet and desired to take the revenge. The Holy Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H) presented himself for his revenge, for which the Prophet also removed the sheet covering his body. The companion stepped forward and kissed his back and said that he had wanted to see the back of Prophet and kiss it. It is an example for presenting himself for accountability. The first Orthodox Caliph of Islam Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddique (R.A) asked people to follow him if he is right otherwise people are not bound to obey him. The era of Second Caliph Hazrat Umar (R.A) was epitome of good governance and justice. Once he asked what the people would do if he was not right, though he was famous for his frightfulness, one of common man stood and said they would upright him on the tip of sword. Hazrat Ali (R.A) being the forth Orthodox Caliph of Islam appeared before the Judge, in a case and could not provide sufficient proof to him and lost his case against an infidel. That event inspired the opposite party who embraced Islam for its immaculate justice system. Hazrat Umar bin Abdul Aziz (R.A) whose reign is regarded equal to the time of Orthodox Caliphs, when became the caliph, he returned all ornaments and valuables of his family to the Government Exchequer because he did not consider the source of getting these items legal and rightful.
The next speaker Mrs. Nasreen Ayub spoke about the Office of Ombudsman Punjab’s outreach at the grass root level by expending its organizational structure beyond the Regional down to the District, Tehsil and Union Council Levels, so that public service delivery reaches at the door step of the common man. As an administrative watch dog, the office of Ombudsman’s mandate is to ensure that public functionaries are performing their obligations and duties in accordance with rules and regulation and no injustice or an act of maladministration on the part of a public sector agency becomes a cause of grievance for the common man.
Justice (R) Nadir Khan Durrani was the next speaker, he spoke on the occasion and said that the Ombudsman System has very old history. It is a public friendly institution which investigates the matters against the government functionaries and look the issues arose of the ill motives and mala fide intentions of the officials. People approach this institution because it does not require heavy expenses and complaints are received on single piece of paper. He emphasized that the Ombudsman institute should take up the complaints which comes in its jurisdiction and after due process pass reasonable and justified order which can be implemented easily. The redressal of grievance in such a way will not let issue repeated. If the issues out of the domain of Ombudsman are taken up with the agencies that will result in the loss of efficacy of Ombudsman mandate. To achieve this goal the staff of Ombudsman office should be trained properly to work according to the mandate and jurisdiction. Moreover, an Ombudsman should act like a judge and arbitrator to resolve the complaints arose between the parties.
The next speaker of the occasion was Sardar Mukhtar Khan, the Ombudsman of Azad Jammu Kashmir who kept the participants abreast about the function of his institution and shared that the Ombudsman System was introduced in 1983 on Federal Level and 1991 in Azad Jammu Kashmir. The statute of the institution is same as of other Ombudsmen offices i.e. working against the maladministration prevailing in the government departments. The issues of maladministration in the government departments are almost identical and the modus operandi to tackling these issues is also uniform. He urged that Federal Reforms Act 2013 was constituted in March 2013 but it has not been promulgated yet in all the four provinces and Azad Kashmir, due to non-enactment/non-promulgation, there is no progress due to the absence of said law. He proposed to convene the meeting of all the Ombudsmen to discuss the likewise issue and take up with the Chief Executive of the Provinces, Governors and Chief Secretaries who are stake holders and decision makers. There should also be affinity in the process of all the ombudsmen.
Dr. Frank Fawlie delivered a detail speech about the motive, function, challenges and outcomes of the Ombudsman System through multimedia.
Chief guest Mr. Abdul Rauf Chaudhary, Federal Tax Ombudsman came on dice and lauded the informative presentation of Mr. Frank. He added that in Pakistan the Ombudsmen are appointed by the President or Governors of Provinces and they are answerable to them contrary to the other countries where they are selected by the Parliament and they are answerable to the said forums.
He informed the participants that the President of Pakistan has directed the departments not to approach the higher courts in case the Ombudsman passes the order and same is upheld by the appellant authority which is a good sign for the Ombudsman Office.
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