ISLAMABAD - The Federal Ombudsman has expanded its services to the far-flung areas of Pakistan through robust awareness campaign.

Addressing a press conference at his office in Islamabad, the Federal Ombudsman (Wafaqi Mohtasib) Syed Tahir Shahbaz said that the year-2019 was observed as the “year of awareness”, therefore, a comprehensive public awareness campaign was run by using various tools of print, electronic and social media. Due to this campaign a number of complaints have increased considerably, especially in Balochistan, South Punjab and other remote areas of the country. He said that we have also introduced a Mobile App through which 2,054 complaints were received. Now a person can lodge a complaint from his/her home through Mobile App and also witness the entire process and status of his complaint. The high number of complaints were registered against LESCO as 9,932, SNGPL 6,589, K-Electric 6,207, PESCO 4,404 and NADRA 3,948.

The Wafaqi Mohtasib’s secretariat, on the advice of the president, initiated a number of innovative techniques to increase awareness among general public about the use of services being offered by the Mohtasib office. In this regard, two seminars were held at President Secretariat and Governor House, Lahore. The president inaugurated the public-friendly website and mobile App through which the public can easily file their complaints.

The Federal Ombudsman office also created accounts on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube so that maximum people could be made aware of the services. The public service messages were also run through TV channels and mobile phones. An awareness documentary was telecast on PTV and awareness lectures were also delivered in the leading universities. The Federal Ombudsman also held 16 press conferences himself in various parts of the country.

Syed Tahir Shahbaz said that speedy and free-of-cost justice is being delivered at the doorstep of the people by the institution of Wafaqi Mohtasib. He said that 73,059 complaints were received during the year 2019, a number which was 3.31 percent higher than the previous year, whereas 74,869 complaints have been decided by clearing the backlog of November and December 2019, showing 7.60 percent rise as compared to the 2018. He said that findings issued by him were accepted mostly i.e. by the 99 percent agencies and the complainants. Only in 1,039 cases, review petitions were filed which was 1.39 percent of the total complaints, whereas, 317 representations were filed before the President of Pakistan against the decisions of Wafaqi Mohtasib, which is 0.42 percent of total complaints. He said 87.2 percent findings were got implemented during 2019.

Syed Tahir Shahbaz said that established 37 years ago, the institution of Wafaqi Mohtasib has emerged as a vibrant institution to provide relief to a common man. He said that his office is considered as a poor man’s court which dispenses free of cost justice in a speedy manner. He said that during 2019, every finding was decided within a period of 60 days and the review petition within 45 days.

 To improve the mechanism, the fedral Ombudsman said, the officers of the secretariat visited the remote areas under Outreach Complaint Resolution (OCR) to provide relief at the doorsteps of common man and decided 5,228 cases during the year. Under Integrated Complaint Resolution Mechanism (ICR), 160 agencies (federal government departments) were taken on board for better monitoring and expeditious resolution of public grievances and 7,852 cases were registered through ICR system, where the agencies had failed to resolve these cases within 30 days. In order to facilitate the government officials, E-Pension system has been established in AGPR and all ministries and departments have been linked with AGPR for in-time processing of their pension cases.

Syed Tahir Shahbaz further said that his office has already established a telephone helpline (1055) which regularly provides information to the general public from 9 AM to 10 PM.  He informed that Federal Ombudsman of Pakistan has been re-elected unopposed as President of Asian Ombudsman Association during International Ombudsman Conference held at Istanbul Turkey in December, 2019 which is a great achievement of Pakistan.