Salman Farooqi, a seasoned mandarin and currently serving as Secretary General to the President has been assigned additional responsibilities of Federal Ombudsman. The post was lying vacant since October 2010 following the completion of the four-year term of Javed Sadiq. This is a hot seat and the man in this position carries the responsibility of representing the interest of public by investigating and addressing complaints of maladministration or violation of rights by any official body. It is a constitutional position enjoying a mandate under Article 270-A. Given the domestic hurdles to transparency, this office started working as late as 1983. The Ombudsman has headquarters in Islamabad while its regional offices are located in Lahore, Sukkur, Quetta, Faisalabad, Multan, Dera Ismail Khan, Peshawar and Karachi. Due to delay in appointing replacement for Javed Malik, an incredible backlog of over 75,000 complaints of people aggrieved at actions or inactions of federal institutions are lying pending. The Prime Minister has asked Salam Farooqui to deal with the cases on urgent basis.

Salman Farooqui is regarded President Asif Zardari’s favourite bureaucrat but at the same time he is known to be a quick decision-maker. One would expect that he would finish off the pending cases in time. With the opportunity, Farooqui could silence critics who have expressed surprise on his elevation to this post.