Judicial reforms being introduced by the present government with the spirit of justice delayed, justice denied


Apr 25 - May 08, 2005


Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz has launched a low-cost housing scheme in Islamabad Monday last aimed at providing shelter to the lower income group of the government employees in the grade 1 to 16.

It is certainly a highly commendable step on the part of the present government to take care of the low-paid government employees who can only dream of owning a house of their own especially in the face of sky rocketing price of the real estate and steeply eroding purchase power due to mounting inflationary pressures in the country.

The government employees under this scheme can own a flat of their own at an affordable price to be paid in easy installments. These installments according to initial plan would be matching to the house rent paid by the government.

This pilot project, having some 1,000 flats in the first phase will be developed with in 12 months followed by similar projects which are to be developed by the Federal Government in the four provincial capitals including Lahore, Karachi, Quetta and Peshawar.

The Provincial Governments have also been advised by the federal government to chalk out such low cost housing scheme for the low paid employees.

"It has been our cherished goal to provide housing to all the government employees, especially those in the lower grades", the Prime Minister declared in a firm tone at the launching ceremony.

Besides meeting President of Azerbaijan who visited Pakistan last week, the Prime Minister paid a day-long visit to Faisalabad and addressed a news conference. He presided over an ECC meeting which took the laudable decision allowing free movement of wheat in the country. In a Cabinet meeting, the premier has approved the draft of law reforms aimed at providing swift justice to the masses and save them from police highhandedness. Emphasizing the need to project Pakistan in its true light, in keeping with its true history, culture, values and tradition, the Prime Minister constituted a ministerial committee to consider and evolve a strategy to achieve this objective. He also presided over a meeting of ruling PML leaders. Later, he visited some barani fed areas around Islamabad to assess the wheat crop and enquire from farmers their problems and difficulties.

Launching the housing scheme in G-11/4 sector of Islamabad, the Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said government is taking concrete measures to promote construction industry to provide shelter to the people and generate maximum employment opportunities. He said a strategy has been devised to ensure provision of houses with proprietary rights to all the federal government employees before their retirement. The PM has announced that the one thousand low cost apartments would be completed by the end of next year in Islamabad. He said four new sectors will be opened in the capital and more flats would be built for the low-paid employees. Similar apartments would also be constructed in the provincial headquarters shortly.

Shaukat Aziz said government employees of grade 1-16 will get their own flats during their service span at an affordable price due to this housing scheme. As many as 1000 flats of C, D, and E category will be constructed as a pilot project at a cost Rs1.5 million. The allottee will contribute 40 percent of the cost in installment, while the National Bank of Pakistan will finance the remaining 60 percent cost arranged through the Housing Foundation.

The Prime Minister assured the jubilant employees of the federal government that allotment would be through computer balloting with no quota for anyone. "There will be no quota for the President, Prime Minister or any one as all employees are equal before the government," the premier said amid loud applause. He said the initiative would end depression and anxiety of those employees who found themselves in utter disarray over the housing problem after retirement. The PM asked the banks and the financial institutions to provide low-interest loans to such employees to help improve their living standard.

In his welcome address, Minister for Housing, Syed Safwanullah said five new projects to construct apartments for low paid employees will shortly be launched in Islamabad under the 'Housing for All' project.

The Economic Coordination Committee of (ECC) of the Cabinet, in its meeting held in Islamabad on Tuesday under the Chairmanship of the Prime Minister took many laudable decisions. These decisions related to free movement of wheat, quick disposal of 1.58 million bales of cotton lying with TCP, concessional duty on new model cars imported by manufacturers, and extension of reduced tax regime to machinery and equipment for construction industry, with a view to resolving some of the serious problems already being faced by the nation's economy. The most important of them belongs to the free movement of wheat.

In his briefing to newsmen, Dr. Ashfaq Hassan Khan, Advisor to the Ministry of Finance, revealed that the ECC was apprised of the prospects of a bumper wheat crop of 22 million tonnes, exceeding the target of 20,2 million tonnes, and thus, also leaving a surplus of 1.8 million tonnes. This was what prompted the ECC to call for removal of any restrictions on inter-district or inter-provincial movement of wheat.

Learning the right lessons from earlier restrictions on the movement of the staple food, the ECC did well to allow free wheat across the country. As for the inadvisability of the Punjab government's recent restrictions on inter-provincial movement of wheat, reference may be made to the grim outcome last year and the growing discontent in Sindh and NWFP to the detriment of national harmony as the Punjab government's repeated directives. It will, therefore, be necessary to ensure that the decisions for free movement of wheat are implemented in letter and spirit. Moreover, as the provincial governments have also been asked to meet the wheat requirements of the flour millers to the full, in order to ensure that the price of atta remains stable, the Advisor rightly observed that this would have dampening effect on inflation, for which multi-directional efforts are being made. Mention, in this regard, may also be made of ECC's decision to create a strategic reserve of 0.9 million tonnes, and an operational reserve of 4.73 million tonnes both at the same time, aimed at ensuring smooth supply of wheat and price stability.

Addressing a press conference at the end of his day long visit of the Industrial city of Faisalabad on Friday the Prime Minister said that the government was taking all necessary measures to keep Pakistani industry competitive after the enforcement of WTO regime. In this regard, he said, treatment plants were being set up in the industrial towns to ensure the mandatory environmental and social compliance required for the international market.

About the availability of skilled manpower, he said that a comprehensive strategy had been evolved to set up technical and vocational training centers throughout the country to produce skilled manpower. He said that the financial health of Pakistan Railways had improved substantially and added that the institution was in a better position to invest for expanding instructor through laying new tracks and doubling of the existing networks besides getting new rolling stock. Pakistan Railways should make economic and efficient use of the land lying with it idle for many years. He said that the sale of the land could help generate sufficient fund for the up-gradation of Pakistan Railways infrastructure.

PM said that the business friendly policies of the present government have brought substantial foreign investment in the industrial sector, ushering in a new era of progress and economic stability. "Rapid industrialization will not only help generate more jobs but also increase the exports of the country, he said while speaking at the foundation-laying ceremony of PVC manufacturing plant of Sitara Group of industries, some 32 kms from here. On the construction of Faisalabad-Multan Motorway (M4) he said that the process of land acquisition had already been initiated and the construction would be completed on top priority basis.

After the Cabinet meeting which approved the legal reforms bill 2005, the Prime Minister, while talking to a group of MNAs said that the proposed law reforms approved by the Federal Cabinet is the fulfillment of the promise made by him to the nation to ensure inexpensive justice, expeditious disposal of cases and redressed of outstanding grievances in the administration of justice.

The Prime Minister said curtailing undue discretionary powers; simply procedures and removal of procedural impediments were the hallmark of these reforms. These are aimed at providing easy access to justice and upholding the rule of law as the government believes that justice delayed is justice denied.

The PM said that the government was fully aware of the difficulties faced by the common man and taking corrective measures to redress the grievances. He expressed his confidence that these reforms will help improve the living standard of the low income strata of the society.

The reform package curtails the discretionary powers of the police by introducing changes in civil and criminal statues hired removing procedural laws in judicial system to cruse provision of expensive and speedy justice in the country.

Understandably, dispensation of timely and inexpensive justice has remained a buzz word with every government in Pakistan since the inception of the country, but the passion was hardly transformed into a reality. It may be recalled that in his very first address to the nation, the PM had pledged to introduce judicial reforms to ensure dispense of speedy justice to the poor masses.

The law reforms package approved by the Cabinet apparently represents his firm commitments to establish an egalitarian society in Pakistan with social and economic justice as its hallmark. Justice is the cardinal principle of Islam and essential prerequisite for salvation of a nation. History bears witness to the fact that many a society with tendency of trampling justice has perished. Justice is important for all societies, but it is vital for Pakistan which comprised hapless and deprived masses. Poor litigants have to run from pillar to post to seek justice especially at the level of the lower judiciary, which is infested with corrupt, inefficient and shirker elements. Police, on the other hand, has emerged as a monster due to unprecedented discretionary powers that it wields under the law at will and whim. The life of the common man is simply miserable at the hands of both the police and judiciary. Its, therefore, a matter of satisfaction that Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz's Government has responded to the urgent need of providing relief to the masses, who are groaning under the high cost and delayed process of justice in the country. It's universally established that justice delayed amounts to justice denied, yet litigation in our country stretches over years and decades depriving the poor litigants of their lifelong resources. Ironically, the hapless seldom get justice, which is invariably stolen by the affluent and influential adversaries. It's hoped that the package will be approved by Parliament at the earliest for consequent dispensation of quick and inexpensive justice in the country.