LAHORE - The office of Punjab Ombudsperson has been lying vacant since the retirement of last office bearer Dr Mira Phailbus in February this year.

However, according to official sources, a panel of three personalities including former bureaucrat Farkhanda Waseem Afzal, Salima Hashmi and Naheed Rizvi is under consideration for appointment of Ombudsperson.

The government will notify the office bearer after the nod of the CM, they held.

The office is Punjab Ombudsperson vacant owning to retirement of former Ombudsperson and former Kinnaird College principal, Dr Mira Phailbus. Dr Phailbus was the first Ombudsperson appointed by the Punjab government in February 2013. Dr Phailbus took notice in cases regarding women harassment and summoned many serving officers including a DMG officer of grade 20.

In a landmark verdict delivered by the Ombudsperson for the Protection of women against Harassment at Workplace, 14 employees of a agriculture department had been punished by their supervisor for their role in harassing a female co-worker.

She also censured those women who allege officials but lack evidence. A PU teacher, who registered sexual harassment case against the VC, had alleged that a law literate person be appointed as Ombudsperson instead of Mira Phailbus, who was a Geography expert.

The newly-made constitutional body was dysfunctional as the government could not appoint the Ombudsperson which was the sole discretion of the chief minister.

Salima Hashmi who is also former principal of National College of Arts Lahore is under consideration.

Salima is an artist, actor, writer, curator and a human rights activist. She taught at the National College of Arts, Lahore, for about three decades and was principal of the college for four years. She is a painter of international repute whose works have been exhibited in Pakistan and also out of country.

She has exhibited her own work, travelled and lectured extensively all over the world, and has curated about a dozen international art shows in the UK, Europe, USA, Australia, Japan and India.

In 1999, Salima Hashmi received Pakistan’s Pride of Performance award. At present, she is the Dean of School of Visual and Communication Department at the Beaconhouse National University, Lahore.

The daughter of Faiz Ahamd Faiz, Salima Hashmi who is also former principal of National College of Arts Lahore is also under consideration.

Farkhanda Waseem Afzal, the wife of a retired bureaucrat Hasan Waseem Afza, is a DMG officer and is among the women being considered for the slot of Ombudsperson. She has vast experience to have served on different key postings across the country. She preferred to remain an OSD for long along with his husband rather accepting a junior seat.

The third name under consideration is of a social activist Naheed Rizvi who has a great contribution in public services.

The cases of sexual harassment at workplace were Ombudsperson’s mandate and laws were enforced to curb such exploitation. The women workers, employed at homes or offices, facing sexual harassment or any kind of blackmailing may lodge complaints by post or e-mail with the Ombudsperson office.

It is to be recalled that any woman of good repute whether an educationist, human rights activist, a retired officer or a judge may be appointed as Ombudsperson by the Provincial government.