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Published Date: Feb 15, 1994

A Consumer Protection Initiative for Islamabad (P-22)

Maha Malik, SDPI
1994.

Introduction

In collaboration with IOCU, Dr Zafar Mirza of  Network organised a workshop on consumer protection in March this year. The objective of the workshop was to identify consumer concerns and to help initiate consumer action in Pakistan. Three groups, basing themselves in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad were formed in order to pursue the findings of the workshop.

Problem areas determined by the Islamabad group were water safety, food safety, pharmaceuticals, misleading advertisements, consumer protection laws and education. After some debate however, the group decided to initially conduct small-scale surveys on atta and refrigerator usage. It felt that the experience accrued from this trial phase could be critical to the development of an effective  long-term strategy for consumer protection.

Meanwhile, the participants’ views on formal organisational roles and structures, selection of issues, audiences and approaches varied significantly. This paper supplements the ongoing work of the group, and attempts to organise their views within a basic framework, so as to  develop a plausible map for further action in the Islamabad/Rawalpindi area.

The paper is divided into four sections. The first section examines the need for consumer protection in Pakistan. The second identifies potential audiences, issues and roles for an organisation of this orientation. The third section examines possible organisational cultures. And the last section offers recommendations for moving the emergent organisation beyond its ‘framework’ and into an operational phase.

In the absence of  localised empirical data, reliance has been placed on interviews with those individuals who were involved either directly or indirectly with the March workshop; and upon literature made available by the Network, IOCU, the American Centre and Mr M S Khan (director, Monopoly Control Authority). A bibliography and list of interviewees is attached.