Governance, restore dignity of civil services

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Brig Tariq Khalil
AT the onset when new government took over having remained in the centre of policy making circles, in an article immediately I had expressed that the path of governance will not be easy. Later events in the last eighteen months proved that point. This regime came in to being having gate crashing in the world of status quo. There were and are pillars of resistance at every nook and corner. How could they stomach the breakup of their empires. They in last thirty years built an aura of life, beyond means and pleasure, no matter country continued to sink in debt trap. ($95 billion). They built an army of interest groups in every segment of society. Horizontally and vertically every organ of state stand effected and decayed.
Traders collect taxes but do no deposit, they do not want to be in tax net. Every reform package was made to fail both by collectors and those who have to pay. Cities/towns have been converted into garbage even basic civic functions have been thrown out of the window. Laws are there but mafias do not allow its implementation. Thirty/forty per cent electricity is stolen and line losses are alarmingly at thirty per cent and above. IPPs contracts based on the edifice of corruption (capacity payment- Novel idea) are killing the economy. Problem are well known but lack of governance make government slave to mafias. It is the story in every segment of polity, economy and bureaucracy.
The problem starts from grass-roots level. The door of corruption was first opened in 50/60s when claims were filed. It never got closed thereafter. 1971 was turning point when fabric of society got completely shattered. Fall of Dacca impacted in vertical and horizontal dimensions. The people lost faith in living, and resigned themselves to circumstances. Bhutto who resisted transfer of power to majority after 1971 election rose to power in left over West Pakistan. Country was writhing in pain after the shock of dismemberment. This created a void among the governed and those in power. Killing of the private sector was the last straw. Labour and unions self appointed themselves as the owners and heirs of what ever industry Pakistan had at that time. Politically tainted unions became guardians and result is history. Bureaucracy who at best was for day to day administration found themselves running the industries without know-how or acumen. There was race to collect the best piece of cake and soon companies started loosing. The rot is still going on.
Nationalised schools/colleges became hotbed of politics and over and above education was handed over to cronies who could buy posting and appointments. The society soon started loosing its moorings. Lust for power and puff became the order of day. Money must be got hold of, no matter how. It created space for the foreign interest groups ingress in every sphere of life. Consequently, the country suffered enormously. While military establishment is responsible for the physical and ideological frontiers, civil bureaucracy are the wheels of the governance. A small number of civil servants had stabilised the country after partition and the administration against daunting challenges. In later years they produced icons of administrative service. Civil administration managed smooth governance entirely due to their honesty and dedication. They resisted political interference. Rot started with the rise of Ghulam Mohammad. It was like taking Jin out of bottle.
Bhutto, never happy with civil bureaucracy struck first. He not only threw out large number of civil servants out of service creating space to induct cronies. Grades were introduced to pave way for lateral entrants destroying merit in one stroke. Forest officers became Home Secretaries. Later personal loyalties to political leadership became norm. Personal interviews held to test loyalties. Political leadership set the aim and objectives in accordance with the promises to people and their manifesto. Civil Services are there to implement these objectives in a smooth manner to ensure wheel of the government run uninterrupted. Security and safe environment against internal and external threats, justice and fairness is ensured by Military and Judiciary. IK government task force has been at work for civil services reforms. Unfortunately they have ignored the root cause again and gone for cosmetic changes. Important is the nature of task each service has to perform. Grades uniformly do not work. Task of a Grade-18 Postal Service officer can not equate with Additional Deputy Commissioner or Deputy Commissioner. These are two different spheres. So is the case with other Services. Introducing grades and to move laterally destroyed the structure of Services. The pride, dignity of services disappeared.
The reforms introduced by Musharaf regime was a great blow to Pakistan’s civil structure, ie creating District Coordinating Officers but without teeth. Result, a complete chaos and confusion. Naturally system failed and next government abandoned it and reverted to old system. Principle of governance is, at top, command is centred in one authority. There cannot be too many power centres. Why in defence service the governance is better. Within services each profession has own officer structure and they move within it. Terms of service are very clear. Same was the case earlier in civil services. There used to be Pakistan Civil Service, Pakistan Police Service, Pakistan Foreign Service, Pakistan Engineering Service and so on. There is a need to restore this and the system of grades be done away. The pay structure for each service also be tailored according to responsibility and the task assigned. Political interference to move laterally needs to be stopped. In army this distinction is very clear between arms and services.
Competitive examination should be in two parts. One for common training and to fix the merit and second service-wise. Like Medical, Engineering, Revenue, etc. Preliminary examination and Psychological tests should proceed the main examination. Similarly age limit should not be more then 26 years for regular and 28 in service aspirants. It will allow an officer to serve and reach higher grades smoothly. Separate service will restore dignity and pride in own service. Each service to have own service structure right up to top. Service security be guaranteed in constitution. No lateral movement be allowed from one service to other.
—The writer is Secretary of Army Reorganisation Committee in the 90s.

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