By: Syed M Ilyas
Over the years, the institution of the Wafaqi Mohtasib has emerged as a strong and effective bulwark against bureaucratic red tape, maladministration, arbitrary decision making and delays, thereby providing relief to millions of downtrodden Pakistanis, who are often at the receiving end and remain a victim of such delays and hiccups.
At independence, the country inherited a colonial type of bureaucratic machinery typically rooted in archaic rules and regulations, which have seldom been updated to meet the requirements of the present age.
It seriously hampered the capacity to address public grievances and to provide prompt relief. Secondly, the bureaucracy itself was neither trained nor motivated to respond to such challenges and to find out of the box solutions. Resultantly, the public kept suffering for too long as the outdated system continued to take its toll.
The silent prayers of the people were finally answered in 1983 when the government decided to establish the office of the Federal Ombudsman through a Presidential Order to address such issues. However, in the beginning, it’s functioning remained subdued and the bulk of the people were either unaware of its existence or simply didn’t understand its utility & methodology how to get relief, in case of any wrongdoing by a govt .agency.
It was only at the turn of the new century and with the onset of the communication technology proliferation particularly the private media, mobile & Internet, which had helped to turn over a new leaf & gave a big boost to its working.
During the last one decade or so, the institution of the Wafaqi Mohtasib has been catapulted into prominence and the people of Pakistan are literally heaving a sigh of relief over the silver lining that emerged amidst dark clouds.
Metaphorically, it’s a whiff of the fresh air, heralding a new era of hope and promise. Free of cost justice and that too at their doorstep is really something taking the people by surprise. It is unparalleled in the country’s 75 years of chequered history.