ISLAMABAD - Speakers at a Consultative Workshop entitled "Role of Media for Consumer Rights Protection" Monday called for a countrywide drive for foolproof legislation to ensure  consumer rights protection taking on board all the stakeholders with the provision of a regulatory mechanism to enforce the consumer laws; and devising a joint strategy to bring all the civil society organisations to address the issues from a unified platform through organising consumer rights groups at grass roots level. The participants of the moot held under the aegis of Civil Society Alliance (CSA) also urged the media to be a partner in the drive meant for the rights of the civil society and play its part to ensure effective legislation and the enforcement of the relevant laws of consumer rights across country. They stressed the need for taking steps to speed up the system of the protection of consumer rights protection, removal of restrictions of access, launching of a well-conceived awareness drive among the consumers through media, minimising the 30-day claim time and reducing the judgment period of 6 months which was is too lengthy. They also recommended for out of court settlements/alternate dispute resolution (ARD); one standard law followed throughout the country; consumers' representation should be included while drafting a consumer protection law and the consumers should have the greater access to information and resources. Eminent civil society activist Arshad Bhatti opined that a law should be established direct contract between consumer and manufacturer, effective tools for monitoring should be introduced, an institution is imperative to monitor the violations of consumer law and the consumer opinion should be inducted while setting prices and tariffs. He added that the laws should be more user and consumer-friendly; a body should be established to lodge consumer complaints in courts on behalf of consumers; consumers should be considered as an independent body; conflict of interests between government and consumers should be eliminated. "The compensations and penalties should be established at level of realistic deterrence. The consumers should be provided financial and legal aid to fight their cases in consumer courts," said Rukham Khan, Convener, Civil Society Alliance (CSA), in his opening speech. He said the CSA was striving to create and embody an active coalition of Pakistani civil society members, men and women, including but not limited to social scientists, journalists, lawyers, physicians, working class intellectuals, farmers, students, writers, poets, thinkers, businesspersons and other professionals, infused with true national spirit. "We are making an attempt to create and deploy an activist network with intimate knowledge of the real democracy and full commitment to grass root activism to promote nationalism and patriotism," he said and added that the CSA would devise and implement strategies for harmony and cordial mutual working relationship between state institutions and promoting the culture of respecting the democracy to strengthen the base for socio-political justice in the society. "We are endeavoring to formalise a solution-oriented approach to safeguard the rights of a vast majority of consumers by active participation of state agencies, forces of market and consumers. It is a fundamental commitment to bring closer the different groups and factions divided on racial, ethnic, linguistic and regional basis, under one banner the practical efforts to promote social and religious harmony and eradication of gender discrimination," Mujahid Hussain, an eminent journalist/columnist said. CSA serves as an all inclusive platform for Civil Society Organizations and plans to organize (encourage, activate, support and promote) issue-based, challenge-specific networks and alliances. Keeping with the diversity and dynamism intrinsic to civil society's form and function, CSA affords its member entities a right to choose the issues they wish to pursue. CSA takes its membership from general public, community-based organizations, trade unions, bar associations, social scientists, journalists/ press clubs, lawyers, physicians, working class intellectuals, students, writers, poets, thinkers, businesspersons and other professionals. CSA attempts to create and deploy an activist network with intimate knowledge of local issues and full commitment to grass root activism. CSA takes up all the public interest issues which affect the common Pakistanis. CSA is striving to create awareness about these issues and formulating strategies to find solutions through involvement of common Pakistanis. One of the issues that need immediate public attention is the issue of consumer rights protection. CSA has conducted intensive research on Consumer Rights protection laws and their implementation. It has developed parallels between situation in Pakistan and elsewhere in the world. This has formed the basis to identify loopholes and cracks in the system. CSA believes that issue of consumer rights is of very sensitive nature and should be given immediate attention. As potential voters are also consumers, consumer protection takes on a clear political significance. CSA Consumer Rights Groups will be formed from Federal to Union-Council level in which volunteers will be inducted to promote the issue in their respective area. The focus of CSA's research is on social perspective as well as legal. Protecting consumers' rights is not a new phenomenon around the globe. From time immemorial conscious civilization has been trying to protect rights of consumers in the society. With the advent of the 20th century, the issue of consumer rights protection gained importance in various developed countries of the world. It got international recognition when the United Nations promulgated the basic guidelines regarding consumer rights protection. By the end of the 20th century, the issue of consumer rights protection became almost like a movement all over the world. In a country like Pakistan where even the basic rights of citizenship are frequently contested before the courts, consumer protection is rather a more problematic and neglected category. As the present review of legislation reveals, the treatment of the consumer in Pakistan varies from complete exclusion to only partial accommodation in the legislative scheme. For example, in most cases there exists no procedure whereby the consumer may be able to lodge a complaint or have the consumers' point of view represented adequately or at all during tariff or price determinations. There are number of loopholes in the legislation currently in place to protect consumers and also in its regulatory mechanism. Consumers or Consumer's interest has seldom been considered while drafting legislations or ordinances affecting the consumer. Consumer courts are there but very sparsely spread throughout the country and in most cases not accessible to common Pakistanis.