Integrating bureaucracy into civil society

Mirza Shahnawaz Agha

WHEN the colonist flew the nest they left behind an order of governance for the bureaucracy of the state to joyfully live with. This was enjoyable, profitable and legally effective, with all tools to intimidate the people at will. This became the bedrock of a bribe giving and taking culture today, although the colonist had these laws only for the purpose of subjugating the population. They did not need bribes as they were so well paid and looked after, at our cost, that bribes were petty and unimaginable. The colonial bureaucracy worried about their jobs more so and therefore pleased the crown that hired them. They could care less about a native lining their pockets. This was the past and perfectly understandable and right for the colonist. The successors and the inheriting lot, barring a handful of the very charged with nationalism, honest and wealthy, suddenly discovered themselves as operators and beneficiaries of public wealth waiting to be had without qualms. The opportunity spread like a plague and infected the entire bureaucratic setup from the top to the bottom like a virus. This is the history and the current reality of the bribe taking regime and syndrome in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. We are required to refer to this as ‘corruption’, with a polite request: ‘Say no to corruption’!
Issues when identified should swiftly be resolved and that is the basic expectation of any population from their government. In our case the issue though common knowledge could not be resolved because the beneficiaries of this heist were the governmental functionaries responsible to change the laws. How should, us the people being robbed, expect to have robbers change their ways and adopt morality en-mass? We would be naïve to expect that, particularly when we wish to under pay and over work them and more, seek subordination and personality worship in denial of the laws. The oppression has gone to such limits that we have achieved levels of a slave culture. The lower strata are given homes and sustenance standards that are sub human by any measure, as if these were children of a lesser God. The upper strata in the service, in collusion with the politicians, get privileged comforts befitting rulers not servants of the people. A bureaucracy thus profiled, when deployed are animals of livelihood only and therefore devoid of merit and entirely corrupt. All they can think about is money for themselves and their bosses who need to be worshiped. This lot cannot take initiatives and or indulge in system engineering and or the development of processes that will help and aid the population to feel the difference between the years of subjugation and this period of independence.
The top graders are in GORs (Government officers residences) and so are jurist and army men in walled enclosures pronouncing their high official authority and inaccessibility, whilst the low graders are in government quarters living with filth and deprivation of basic amenities. How do we profile and where do we place these managers of a free country is a question that warrants our demand seeking change. Pay scales and limitation of authority are at the root of the solution. A person employed by the government has to be better paid (not endowed with lands) than the private sector can ever afford and their job description as executioners of mandates assigned by the Judiciary, Army and the Executive must be pegged at two ends: For decision making, by research on the one hand, and For limitation of authority, without judicial powers on the other.
Most compulsively however, they have to be drawn out of their protected shells and back integrated into civil society. Prangs of living suffered by us their employers, must be felt and experienced by these servants of the people, to be effective service managers. Allowing the servants of the people to live with uninterrupted and preferential facilities are oppressive and a mockery of the social contract in any free country. There are two clear demands we need to legislate in placing the bureaucracy as an essential arm of the government. One, that they must come from amongst the people of the land and live with them to serve them; and the other, that they are contained for their authority to follow a standardization code in the country that tells them what to do and how. Beyond these two aspects they must be entirely without judicial authority, because that dilutes the efficacy and need of a judiciary and they must be pre-tutored to qualify serving in any discipline of their deployment.
The holder of the highest office in the government and lowest without discrimination should be able to eat the same quality of food, wear the same quality of clothes, and at will, be able to enjoy the same standards of education and health care. These people need to remain constantly accountable for their conduct and must remain monitored for their deeds and words. The above being the writ of the people, we the people, must resolve to back integrate the bureaucracy in to civil society now instead of allowing them to entrench themselves with land that is grabbed as the sole basis of a revenue stream for themselves and the institution they represent. We must seek to free the Pakistani roads for development from speed-breakers!
— The writer is an entrepreneur and author based in Karachi.

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