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Global Go To Think Tank Index (GGTTI) 2020 launched                    111,75 Think Tanks across the world ranked in different categories.                SDPI is ranked 90th among “Top Think Tanks Worldwide (non-US)”.           SDPI stands 11th among Top Think Tanks in South & South East Asia & the Pacific (excluding India).            SDPI notches 33rd position in “Best New Idea or Paradigm Developed by A Think Tank” category.                SDPI remains 42nd in “Best Quality Assurance and Integrity Policies and Procedure” category.              SDPI stands 49th in “Think Tank to Watch in 2020”.            SDPI gets 52nd position among “Best Independent Think Tanks”.                           SDPI becomes 63rd in “Best Advocacy Campaign” category.                   SDPI secures 60th position in “Best Institutional Collaboration Involving Two or More Think Tanks” category.                       SDPI obtains 64th position in “Best Use of Media (Print & Electronic)” category.               SDPI gains 66th position in “Top Environment Policy Tink Tanks” category.                SDPI achieves 76th position in “Think Tanks With Best External Relations/Public Engagement Program” category.                    SDPI notches 99th position in “Top Social Policy Think Tanks”.            SDPI wins 140th position among “Top Domestic Economic Policy Think Tanks”.               SDPI is placed among special non-ranked category of Think Tanks – “Best Policy and Institutional Response to COVID-19”.                                            Owing to COVID-19 outbreak, SDPI staff is working from home from 9am to 5pm five days a week. All our staff members are available on phone, email and/or any other digital/electronic modes of communication during our usual official hours. You can also find all our work related to COVID-19 in orange entries in our publications section below.    The Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) is pleased to announce its Twenty-third Sustainable Development Conference (SDC) from 14 – 17 December 2020 in Islamabad, Pakistan. The overarching theme of this year’s Conference is Sustainable Development in the Times of COVID-19. Read more…       FOOD SECIRITY DASHBOARD: On 4th Nov, SDPI has shared the first prototype of Food Security Dashboard with Dr Moeed Yousaf, the Special Assistant to Prime Minister on  National Security and Economic Outreach in the presence of stakeholders, including Ministry of National Food Security and Research. Provincial and district authorities attended the event in person or through zoom. The dashboard will help the government monitor and regulate the supply chain of essential food commodities.

FEDERAL OMBUDSMAN ? A RAY OF HOPE

The Ombudsman represents a government body which is independent from the judiciary and the executive and addresses citizens’ complaints. Having special powers to protect citizens’ human rights, ombudsman offices are considered as places of solace and asylum for neglected sections of society.

Depending upon the powers an ombudsman is entrusted with, its role varies from society to society. In some societies, an ombudsman is empowered enough to receive complaints, launch investigations into them and impose its verdict upon respective parties.
While in other societies, their role is confined to mediatory bodies which just recommend solutions with no powers to take practical steps to serve justice to the affectees.

In Pakistan, the ombudsman’s office emulates the former situation. It is empowered enough to take up complaints against all federal and provincial government offices, to launch investigations and to impose its verdicts. Not only that, the ombudsman in Pakistan also enjoys a good reputation and credibility among the masses. The Federal Ombudsman enjoys the status of a judge of Supreme Court and thus its decision cannot be challenged.

However, despite having such a competent body readily available to take up people’s grievances, and despite being exploited by government service providers on a daily basis, only a negligible fraction of the society invokes the ombudsman office’s help. Many prefer to use their contacts or use corrupt means to get their way.

A major reason behind the phenomenon is not the fact that people are inclined towards illegal ways of getting things done, but their ignorance about the prevalence of any such body in the country. At a time when corruption, nepotism and mal-governments have become the hallmark of our nation, having a credible body to help people out is not something people are accustomed to.

But the fact of the matter is that the nation benefits by having such a competent body which is committed to eradicating corruption and bad governance. Unfortunately many people are not aware of its existence. Recently, in a seminar, while giving his presentation
to the media and representatives of non government and development organizations, Mr. A.R Abid, Additional Secretary at Wafaqi Mohtasib’s Secretariat, Islamabad said that despite the fact that Mohtasib’s (ombudsman) office was in place since 1983, it had not yet been able to play its role fully.

He lamented the fact that the body did not have a resource base which could be utilized for running an awareness campaign, and thus, they were out to seek help from the media, NGOs, civil society organizations, and students to make their voices and their message reach at all corners of the country.He suggested that instead of taking the complaints as routine complaints from the masses, government officials should take them as part of the process which will lead to improvements.

It was encouraging to know that the Ombudsman office in Pakistan defines good governance in the context of three basic principles – accountability, transparency and integrity. It has a quick system of registering and acknowledging complaints against federal and provincial agencies and ensures redressal of grievances within no later than three months. Besides the provincial ombudsman offices which have their presence in all major districts of the country, the Federal Ombudsman also has a nationwide presence through its offices in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Baluchistan and AJK.

Having said this, a crucial factor for ombudsman’s proper functioning is its prerequisite to have an honest leadership. Perhaps that is the reason that the seat of the federal ombudsman is lying vacant for many months and there seems to be no one taking that seat in the near future. Nevertheless, since the office is running its routine matters quite efficiently, civil society, non government organizations and the media must play its role in highlighting the body’s efficacy and effectiveness in promoting a culture of accountability and good governance in the country.

This article was originally published at: News Pakistan

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint or stance of SDPI.