By: Adeel Alvi
ISLAMABAD: Wafaqi Mohtasib Mr. Ejaz Ahmad Qureshi was re-elected unopposed as President of the Asian Ombudsman Association (AOA) at Kazan (Republic of Tatarstan) today. The elections to the various positions in the AOA Board of Directors were held at the 17th Meeting of the General Assembly. In addition to the election of Mr. Ejaz Ahmad Qureshi as President of AOA, the General Assembly elected Heads of Ombudsman Institutions in Azerbaijan, Hong Kong and Iran as Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer of the Association respectively.Heads of Ombudsman Institutions in China, Japan, Korea, Tatarstan and Turkiye were elected as members of the Board of Directors. Following his election, Mr. Qureshi thanked the General Assembly for expressing confidence and trust in Pakistan’s contribution in promoting the cause of Ombudsmanship and the ultimate goals of good governance and the rule of law in Asia and beyond.
The Asian Ombudsman Association (AOA) is a major non-political, independent and professional body of international character representing more than two thirds of the world population. Its current membership is 46 ombudsman institutions from the Asian Region. The Association’s permanent secretariat is hosted by the Wafaqi Mohtasib Secretariat at Islamabad. The Association was established following the First Asian Ombudsman Conference held on 15-16 April 1996 at Islamabad.
The General Assembly meeting was followed by an International Conference on the “Effective Practices of Ombudsman: National Features and Universal Approaches” which was attended by a large number of international delegations and representatives of international bodies, academia and the civil society. In his address to the Conference, Mr. Qureshi highlighted the centrality of ombudsmanship as an effective mechanism for promoting the rule of law, good governance, justice and fair play in the daily life of a common man. He added that the ombudsman institutions constitute a universal fraternity that makes a strong case for grater interaction and mutual cooperation in pursuit of their common goals and aspirations.
Wafaqi Mohtasib Mr. Ejaz Ahmad Qureshi stated that the ombudsmanship has taken firm roots in Pakistan. The Office of Federal Ombudsman was established on 24 January 1983 and the concept has been replicated in other areas of governance including banking, insurance, taxation and harassment of woman at workplace. Wafaqi Mohtasib Institution over the last forty years has established its credentials as an effective instrument for providing speedy and inexpensive administrative justice to the people against any acts of maladministration by the Federal agencies. He added that over 1.8 million households have benefited from the services of this institution since its inception. The number of complaints handled last year was 164,173 while during the first eight months of the current year, the total receipts has touched the figure of 123,519 and is projected to reach 185,533 by the end of the year. Mr. Qureshi further stated that the objectives and purposes of the establishment of the ombudsman institution have a direct bearing on the realization of the overall goals of the promotion and protection of fundamental rights and good governance in all spheres of life. He assured the international partners that Pakistan remained ready to share its experiences and best practices in promoting professionalism in the work of the ombudsman institutions for the benefit of the Asian regional fraternity.
The Board of Directors meeting of AOA decided that next meeting of BOD will be held in 2024 at Istanbul (Turkey) while China offered to host the General Assembly and BOD meeting in 2025.