While the present government’s effort to provide redress to bereaved civilians through the national citizen’s portal is laudable, its inability to foresee the negative aspects of it in its present form, boggle the mind. The national complaint cell does provide an avenue to register valid complaints against different officials in various government departments but it also provides an avenue for abuse by which officials can be threatened and extorted.

While our bureaucrats have largely rightfully earned their bad name, believe it or not, there are still a few honest and hardworking individuals serving this country. They already face an uphill battle in dispensing their duties within a system designed to promote corruption, dishonesty and laziness while discouraging due diligence and hard work. In this system, when an anonymous complaint cell is introduced where all filed complaints are forwarded to relevant government departments and government officials are called on to answer for these complaints without an intermediary committee set up to independently vet the accuracy and intent of the complainant is unjust. Forwarding these complaints to the complainee for an answer without vetting it takes up valuable time that would otherwise be utilized in carrying out their duties; not to mention the obvious consequence of lowering their morale. It also provides further ammunition to dishonest elements who can hang a complaint over an official’s head to get a desired result. The decision of who the arbiter is, in this instance, is also vague at this point.

As the government tries to put into practice its ideals of how a modern, democratic Pakistan should work, it will have to depend more and more on these individuals who have served this country honestly through the most difficult of times. While the idea of a complaint cell is a good one and a step in the right direction, it needs to be modified to include a vetting process before a government servant who is complained against is taken off his present duties to answer to a complaint that might in the end prove to be baseless. This will also act as a deterrent for fraudulent complaints lodged with malicious intent because the complainant will know that the complaint will be thoroughly examined before an explanation is called. The government should refrain from implementing half-baked ideas because in such cases, even though they might be well intentioned, they may do more harm than good.


Lahore, March 7.