ISLAMABAD - The Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf Saturday ‘temporarily assigned’ additional responsibilities of Federal Ombudsman to PPP loyalist and Secretary General to the President, Salman Farooqui.

An official handout said the decision has been taken to clear the backlog of 75,000 complaints of people aggrieved of actions or inactions of federal institutions pending with the Mohtasib’s office for the past over two years.

There was no mention that for how long this temporary assignment would last but obviously this arrangement would stay till the appointment of Federal Ombudsman on regular basis – which, according to Prime Minister Secretariat, was expected soon.

The office of the Ombudsman has been vacant since former Ombudsman Javed Malik completed his four year tenure. A large number of complaints have piled which could not be disposed due to non-appointment of Ombudsman.

Salman Farooqui also called on the prime minister and thanked him for the trust reposed in him. The prime minister expressed the hope that his long services in the government would enable Salman Farooqui to clear the backlog. Farooqui said he had accepted the assignment as public service and will work in honorary capacity.

An all weather bureaucrat, Salman Farooqui had very good relations with the political governments since late 1980s and in first stint of ex-PM Nawaz Sharif in early 90s he was quite intimate with Sharif family, but soon after the PPP came into power in 1993, he cultivated relations with the sitting government and was one of the most strong bureaucrats in the country holding several important slots at a time.

He had landed in hot waters during the second tenure of Nawaz when the then Ehtesab Bureau chairman initiated a number of corruption cases against him, along with Benazir Bhutto and Asif Ali Zardari. But when the PPP government again came into power in 2008, President Asif Ali Zardari rewarded him for his loyalty with the PPP and appointed him as his Secretary General, besides appointing his daughter Sharmila Farooqui as Adviser to Sindh Chief Minister.