Bureaucracy is the primary administrative agency which impartially implements the government’s policies in a country. After the introduction of social justice, the welfare state, good governance, human rights and globalisation, its importance has increased manifold. Being a democratic and developing country, Pakistan desperately requires an energetic, committed and result-oriented bureaucracy. But such an efficient bureaucratic set up is still a pipedream for the country. The recently proposed bureaucratic reforms by the Planning Ministry seem to be too inadequate and unjust to effect any meaningful change in the juggernaut administration. Presumably, the civil servants have so far failed to benefit the country in socio-economic and administrative spheres.
Despite criticism of civil servants, young, ambitious and informative civil administrators — who take charge after completing requisite training — strive hard to serve the country to the maximum. They not only work overtime, but also take drastic measures against those political, economic and social forces that vehemently oppose and stymie direly needed reforms in the country. After friendly interaction with them, one can assume that these unswerving officers would bring about socio-economic prosperity by dint of effectual and efficient administration.
As far comparative civil administration is concerned, a great number of similarities can be seen between fresh civil servants of Pakistan and those of Britain, America and France. The major differences and hurdles lie in the political, economic, administrative, legal and social roots of our country which largely impede the public servants from working constitutionally. On the other side, the administrative atmosphere in the developed countries is quite supportive and congenial to administrators to serve the people.
Under pressure from certain quarters, our political leaders often resort to insidious shortcuts aimed at reforming the bureaucracy. They are prone to disregarding the entrenched education disparity amongst the federating units of the country. Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal has lately recommended some reforms. Amongst these proposed reforms is the increase in academic qualification from graduation to master level for CSS aspirants. The minister has brushed aside the abysmal conditions of education prevailing in Sindh, KP and Balochistan when compared to Punjab.
No doubt, we desperately need to reform the bureaucratic structure in line with those effectual and efficient administrative systems existing in the developed and advanced countries. Before embarking on this task, it is pertinent that some ground realities must be seriously taken into consideration for the smooth functioning of the federal system. These realities include educational disparity, feudal-democrats’ dominated administration, the culture of give and take, insecure working environment and meager remuneration for most of the civil administrators. Equally important, posting should be made according to candidates’ academic qualification, aptitude and, if necessary, their relevant experience about the positions.
— The write is freelance columnist based in Karachi.