No logbooks of thousands of official cars in Sindh helping criminals

ISLAMABAD: Sindh government does not maintain logbooks of official vehicles in the field throughout the province, discloses a deputy commissioner in his official response, a revelation that coincides with a recent study showing 70 percent vehicles being used by family and friends of officers.
A study had found as many as 2,000 vehicles of Sindh government were not registered with Excise and Taxation Department that further brings to spotlight the issue of their misuse by criminal elements other than massive tax evasion on the part of provincial government.
As far as the issue of non-maintenance of the logbooks is concerned, Deputy Commissioner Karachi (East) while responding to a Right To Information (RTI) request admitted that his office doesn’t keep any record of vehicles, a practice discontinued for last 13 years when provincial government stopped printing the logbooks for maintaining the transportation details and fuel consumed during official movement.
An RTI request was filed by Islamabad-based Center for Policy and Development Initiatives (CPDI) seeking information about the logbooks of DC Karachi (East) office. As DC office refused to answer the query in the beginning, CPDI moved the Sindh Ombudsman, an appellant body in case of refusal of information covered under Sindh’s Freedom of Information law.
Upon Ombudsman’s intervention, DC office gave a reply offering a rare insight into the malpractices of unaccounted for government departments putting to misuse public money without fear of being questioned.
Responding to the Ombudsman’s order, DC Karachi (East) Sami Siddiqui submitted: “Since about last 12/13 years, the practice of maintenance of Log Book in respect of any government vehicle has been discontinued on the one hand and the Government of Sindh is not providing printed Log Books on the other hand. Hence this office is unable to provide certified copies of the Log Books in the present circumstances.”
As The News contacted officials in the DC office for further verification, they confirmed the reply was already submitted. They said not only in their office, the same culture prevails in all the field offices throughout the province.
“Record may be maintained of the vehicles used in Sindh Secretariat but not those in the field offices,” one official said.When Secretary General Administration (Sindh) Mudassar Iqbal was approached for his comments, he feigned ignorance of the practice in the field offices, however, stating that logbooks are maintained at Sindh Secretariat.
Compared to the Secretariat, there are far more vehicles in the field offices. During the auditing process, logbooks are checked to keep track of the vehicles use and the fuel consumed, one wonders how this is done in the absence of proper record. Vehicles are considered the most precious public property after the government building and they go unaccounted for in Sindh.
As far as the non-registered vehicles are concerned, Sindh government purchased 16,000 vehicles from taxpayers’ money for official use of its functionaries and 2,000 of them are not registered with the excise and taxation department thus depriving the department of registration fee and essentially fall in the category of illegal vehicles, a recent study found.
The government has avoided transparency by failing to place the registration details of government vehicles on the excise and taxation department website like it has done for the vehicles of ordinary citizens.
Only about half of the government vehicles use the officially supplied number plates while others invent their own concoctions, it was reported quoting a study conducted.Seventy per cent of the vehicles checked were being used by friends and family and not for official use. There are scores of people who have retired or are no longer in this world who still have government vehicles in their names, noted the study.
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Sharing of MPs’ attendance on official website demanded

Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives, (CPDI) here on Thursday . urged that the attendance of the members of Parliament should be shared on the official website of National and Provincial assemblies.
Program Manager Syed Kausar Abbas said most of the members of the Parliament in Provincial and National Assembly do not attend the assembly sessions which brings a question mark on the performance of the parliamentarians.
He said that the citizens have given a mandate to their elected representatives to represent their constituencies at National and Provincial level but unfortunately they do not attend the sessions on regular basis. He said that the regular performance of the members of parliament should be updated on the official websites of the assemblies. This would bring the accountability mechanism for the citizens and elected representatives.
Kausar Abbas urged the speaker of assemblies to define a mechanism for the sharing of information and performance of the elected representatives with the citizens. He said that the attendance criteria should also be defined to ensure the attendance of MPs in the assembly.

Seminar on police-youth ties

Rawalpindi: A seminar was organised by Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) in collaboration with the Rawalpindi Police to create awareness among the youth and to bridge the gaps between youth and police.
The session was organised in Government Denny’s Higher Secondary School, Rawalpindi, and chaired by Assistant Superintendent of Police Syed Zeeshan Haider and CPDI Program Manager Syed Kausar Abbas.
While addressing , Kausar Abbas said that the facilities for police should be increased and ‘thana’ culture should be improved by the police. He said that the youth should play its role to control the crime from their respective areas.
ASP Zeeshan Haider said that police is a public and public is a police. They have close relationship with each other.
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National Disaster Management Day celebrated

Centre for Peace and Development Initiative (CPDI) in collaboration with Shehersaaz and City District Government, Rawalpindi observed National Disaster Management Day at DCO Complex.
Assistant Commissioner, Nazia Perveen Sudhan graced the occasion as chief guest.
As part of the programme, these organisations arranged poster competition event, which was participated by different schools, colleges and universities of Rawalpindi.
The title of the competition was ‘The use of plastic shopping bags leads to urban flooding’. Old and new members of Shehersaaz participated and shared their views.
Almas Saleem, National Coordinator of Shehersaaz speaking on the occasion said that in the first phase of campaign, focus is being laid on reducing the use of plastic shopping bags replacing them with environment friendly cotton bags. “Through our campaign, we are focusing on two major components including improving the livelihood opportunities for women and promoting environment friendly practices,” he said.
In next phase, she said the related organisations would focus on school children and college students. The purpose would be to target children and youth is that we believe today’s kids have more autonomy and decision making power in a family setting compared with children of the previous generations. They are more vocal and practical about what they want. Now there is need to plant the seeds of good environment friendly habits in the mind of children. Only then we could expect that these seeds would grow as fruit trees and provide shadow to ourselves and coming generations, she said while adding that schools are the real centres of learning where children could learn by practicing ways and means to contribute to the sustainable development of society and environment.
CPDI Programme Manager Syed Kausar Abbass said that the purpose of holding such kind of events is to create awareness among people that how Pakistan is facing a multitude of social and environmental issues of gigantic magnitudes and complex dimensions. However, many of these are linked with citizens’ routine behaviours and their attitude towards society, the places they inhabit and the nature. The chief guest AC Nazia Perveen Sudhan appreciated the initiative of Shehersaaz and especially escalated the steps taken for plastic shopping bags. She ensured full cooperation with Shehersaaz in all means.
The News

Environmental issues linked with behaviours

Pakistan is facing a multitude of social and environmental issues of gigantic magnitudes and complex dimensions. However, many of these are linked with citizens’ routine behaviours and their attitude towards society, the places they inhabit and the natural environment.
This was stated by Syed Kausar Abbas, Programme Manager Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CDPI), and Almas Saleem, National Coordinator of Shehrsaaz, a social organisation while talking to newsmen here on Monday.
Almas Saleem and Kausar Abbas believed that these issues could be addressed to considerable extent by making citizens slightly modify their daily habits and routines, through awareness, sensitisation and offering alternatives.
In this context he said that Shehersaaz has launched, solely relying on public support, a national campaign, ‘Ain Amal’, with a slogan, ‘small positive acts when multiplied millions of people, can transform the world’. ‘Ain Amal’ is all about promoting these small acts.
In its first phase, the campaign is focused on reducing the use of plastic shopping bags in Rawalpindi and Islamabad by replacing them with environment friendly cotton bags.
They said that the campaign was formally launched in Rawalpindi in collaboration with City District Government, Rawalpindi (CDGR), on the eve of National Disaster Management Day 2013. The main feature of the campaign will be the distribution of cotton bags among the members. These members have shown their commitment to reduce/abandon the use of plastic bags to contribute in improving the environment of
the twin cities. Shehersaaz and CDGR are inviting all segment of society including school children, university
students and representatives from NGOs, INGOs and UN agencies, government officials, specially working on children, environment and disaster issues.
In connection with National Disaster Management Day which is observed every year on 8 October; the theme of the ceremony is set as Plastic shopping bags contribute to urban flooding and to address this issue the use
of plastic shopping bags must be reduced.
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Punjab cabinet decision lauded

Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives, Saturday welcomed long overdue approval of Punjab Freedom of Information Act 2013 by Punjab cabinet in the meeting held on Friday.
The cabinet decided that the draft will be promulgated as an ordinance and that it will be later turned into an Act of Punjab Assembly.
However, CPDI Executive Director Syed Kausar Abbas has urged the Punjab government to table the cabinet approved draft in the assembly and pass it as an Act of the assembly after incorporating suggestions of civil society groups rather than promulgating it as an ordinance.
It is praiseworthy that the Punjab government is going to entrust the role of appellate body to Punjab Information Commission in line with the demand of civil society groups working in the area of right to information and transparency.

Legislation on right to information urged

Syed Kausar Abbas, Programme Manager of Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI), has demanded to legislate Right to Information ( RTI) law in Punjab and Federal capital.
He said this while addressing a seminar on ‘Citizens Right to Information’ at Preston University.
The programme was organised by Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives and Freidrich Nauman Foundation (FNF) to engage youth in the campaign for promotion of Right to Information in Pakistan.
He said that the access to information of all the public documents is the fundamental right of every citizen. He said that the Government of Punjab has already legislated some other laws but Right to Information Law is still pending. He said that the Punjab Government must fulfil its promises of legislating Right to Information Law for citizens of Pakistan.
Kausar Abbas said that the budget expenditures of all departments should be presented on the floor of National and Provincial Assemblies after every quarter.

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Campaign for promotion of right to information

Islamabad: The Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) in collaboration with Freidrich Naumann Foundation (FNF) is holding an extensive campaign with the students of universities to promote Right to Information in Pakistan.
This was stated by Syed Kausar Abbas, programme manager of CPDI, while addressing a large number of students at Iqra University.
Kausar Abbas said that Right to Information is a fundamental right of every citizen under the Article 19-A of the constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan. He said that the Government of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa took the initiative to legislate a law on Right to Information. He appreciated the initiative of KP government on legislating a right to information law and urged that the Punjab and Federal should also legislate a law for People’s Right to Information in Pakistan.
He said that the citizens will get empowerment by having Right to Information and this would help to bring transparency and accountability in the public institutions.

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