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Reforming bureaucracy

To ensure rule of law and good governance, civil service must be overhauled by provincial assemblies

Reforming bureaucracy

The elected governments are mandated to administer the state according to their ideologies and thus become face of the state. Bureaucracy translates government’s agendas into meaningful actions and look after the routine business.

Reforming and strengthening the civil services is imperative. The foremost issue is the structure of PCS vis-à-vis PAS. The federal service of DMG/PAS erstwhile known as CSP took numerous unconstitutional and illegal measures to undermine the provincial assemblies and PCS. PAS Officers were posted to the provinces through CSP Rules 1954 which neither have any legal basis nor the outcome of any agreement. The Constitution of 1973 empowered the provincial assemblies for regulating the civil service under Article 240 and 241.

Under Article 240 (b), the KP Provincial Assembly passed Civil Servants Act in 1973 wherein sharing posts with the federation has not been mentioned. Hence, Rules of 1954 ceased to exist the day Civil Servant Act 1973 was enforced in the provinces. Article 240 (b) of the Constitution is a central pillar of provincial empowerment.

Subsequently, the federal government unilaterally renamed CSP as APUG through SRO-1973. APUG was succeeded by the District Management Group (DMG) in 1974 through a mere office memorandum. The present schedule posts are shared between the federal and provincial service as per apportionment formula of 1993, which is an unjust distribution and the root-cause of disparity. It increased the cadre strength of DMG, thereby ensuring rapid promotion for the DMG officers despite their meager strength and constricting promotion prospects for the provincial civil servants. This is one of the major causes of poor governance in the province and the reason for lack of positive motivation, sense of deprivation and utter resentment in the predominant civil service of the province.

The said formula has no legal standing as it was in violation of Article 240(b) and was slapped on the provinces by an interim-government of Moeen Qureshi in the absence of assemblies and without any representation from the PCS officers. This unjust dispensation has manifested itself in the inverse pyramid promotion share which is the only reason of their fastest track promotions against all the ranks of the civil services in the whole country.

Subsequently, the federal government changed the nomenclature of DMG to PAS and tried to lend a legal cover to the formula of 1993 through another illegal SRO in 2014. PAS officers conspicuously occupy all the key provincial positions; whereas, the genuine and premier service of the provinces is marginalised at the cost of promotion of an alien cadre

Before the 18th Amendment, DMG/PAS had a lame pretext of sharing common posts between federation and provinces for grabbing provincial positions. However, after deletion of concurrent list from the constitution of Pakistan, no such common subject or post exist between the federal and provincial governments. As per 142(c), even parliament cannot legislate on service matters of the provinces, let alone the government.

All the PAS/DMG officers from BS-17 to BS-22 posted in the provinces perform provincial functions, get paid from provincial exchequer and get promotions on positions of provincial civil service. Provincial exchequer is not meant to sustain federal workforce. PCS is the premier executive service of the province of which provincial assembly is the custodian and chief minister is the chief executive. Posting of PAS officers to provinces is against the constitution of Pakistan and sheer injustice to the provincial government and provincial civil servants. Hence, this structural issue of the civil service must be resolved before proceeding towards reforming the civil service.

The foremost principle to strengthen the foundation of provincial civil service is the recruitment criteria. Public Service Commission recruits a person to administer districts and all the departments. The irony is that we expect a person with irrelevant qualifications to perform in all the areas i.e. engineers managing the HRM, doctors dealing with finances, lawyers reforming health sector and economists looking after security.

Moreover, the subjects offered for examinations too have no relevance to the jobs. Indo-Pak History, Journalism, Geography, Sociology, Persian and Pashto have nothing to do with the civil service. A candidate can ensure selection by scoring high marks in Pashto or Geography; whereas a more capable person may lose the competition by scoring low at such out-of-the-way subjects. Besides, personality and psychological examination are lacking in substance, hence resulting in induction of people inferior in personal traits. The officers have proved to be satisfactory though, owing to the entrenched official mechanisms which make the routine business quite smooth. In fact to be a “satisfactory” civil servant, all you need is an experienced superintendent and good terms with your superiors. However, efficient service delivery, innovation and excellence would always remain distant ideals given such recruitment model.

Establishment Department is the human resource management department of the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. However, the Establishment Department has no plan for career progression of the officers. There is no sound criterion for promotion except seniority list and taking into account the outdated and meaningless evaluation which has led to gross administrative anomalies. The promotion of PMS/PCS officers is more a matter of luck given his time of recruitment which determines his/her number on the seniority list.

Another crucial component is placement of the officers. The Establishment Department does not follow any rotation formulae nor have any criteria other than complying with the political and bureaucratic recommendations. This has led to demoralisation of the officers and most of them have resorted to political lobbying and unfair means for getting desired postings. In order to revive the quality and integrity of civil service, we must do away with all such practices.

Performance evaluation is also an important yet unattended aspect of the civil service. Placing the entire burden on officers and giving undue leverage to the reporting officers is inappropriate and counter-productive. The current format may be changed at the earliest as it is outdated, subjective and does not fulfill the international standards of performance appraisal.

In order to ensure rule of law and good governance, civil service must be overhauled by the provincial assemblies.

3 comments

  • Intellectual reflection on pas and pms disparity and real drawbacks of civil service exposed by the learned fahad qazi.

    • What a bureaucratic reply to an article about reforming bureaucracy

  • Rukhsana Jabeen

    The woes of provincial bureaucracy have been very well summed up by Mr. Fahad Ikram Qazi. I would only like to say that you enter this field with huge expectations, but the reality slaps you so hard that you just get dizzied. Tears in your eyes further blur your vision and with stumbling steps you try to move forward with no idea about where your destination lies.

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