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Seminar speakers call for reforms in judicial system

By Bureau report
April 20, 2018

PESHAWAR: Speakers at a seminar here on Thursday lamented that getting justice has become extremely expensive in terms of time and financial expenditures, and recommended grassroots reforms in judicial system of the country.

They said that 1.08 million cases had been pending in the courts in Pakistan, 32,000 alone in the Supreme Court.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) organised the event during launch of a study report on Sustainable Development Goal 16.

UNDP has commissioned a study on the review and analysis of gaps in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa related to SDG-16 through PILDAT.

Besides members of the civil society and media, female legislators from the opposition political parties including Qaumi Watan Party (QWP), Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl and Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) participated in the daylong seminar.

Chief Information Commissioner of the Right to Information Commission Azmat Hanif Orakzai also spoke on the occasion.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser had committed to attend the event as chief guest, but didn’t turn up due to reasons best known to him.

A female MPA and QWP’s senior lawmaker Anisa Zeb Tahirkheli, later chaired the event and gave recommendations.

Ahmad Bilal Mehboob, president, PILDAT, gave a detailed note on the SDG-16 and various important issues related to it.

He said the study was conducted from October 2016 to January 2017.

He said the study outlined some of the legislative and policy gaps to be overcome for successful implementation of SDG-16, including peace, justice and strong institutions, in KP.

The targets of SDG-16 were further explained and intended to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.

The target 16.1 is to reduce all forms of violence related deaths, 16.2 wants an end to abuse, exploitation, trafficking, violence and torture of children.

They said that 16.3 was about rule of law at the national and international levels and to ensure equal access to justice for all. Ahmad Bilal said Pakistan’s judicial system is clogged with pendency and seeking justice has become expensive in terms of time and finances.

According to Ahmad Bilal, it has become difficult for some of the people to get Pakistan’s national identity cards.

He said it was apparently due to various hurdles in getting ID cards that 12 million women in the country are not able to get registered in the voter list.

The target 16.5 was to substantially reduce corruption and bribery in all forms and 16.6 emphasised developing effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels.

The speakers said the KP government took an initiative and established Ehtesab Commission but very soon it became an irrelevant body and an important position of the director general remained vacant for quite a long time.

They said the KP government could not frame rules for the commission, though it overlapped with dedicated anti-corruption services like NAB on federal level and the Anti-corruption Establishment in the provinces.

In its recommendations, the UNDP suggested that overlapping among NAB, the KP Ehtesab Commission and ACE should be sorted out.

About 16.6 that stressed the need for effective, accountable and transparent institution, the speakers said the KP Assembly budget process was very weak and the assembly committees lacked suo moto powers.

They noted that the role of public account committees has always been important but KP is the only province where speaker of the assembly Asad Qaisar used to chair the committee instead of the opposition members.