Jawaharlal Nehru famously mocked the Indian Civil Service as “Neither Indian, nor civil, nor a service”.
Lord Samuel wittily lauded the British bureaucracy’s faultless ability to “provide a difficulty to every solution”.
Mrs. Margaret Thatcher, soon after becoming PM, thought she should make an informed assessment of the civil servants for herself. In May 1980, she invited 23 permanent secretaries in her government to dinner at 10 Downing Street. She groaned afterwards: “This was one of the most dismal occasions of my entire time in government.”
In the UK, according to Mrs. Thatcher, a former head of her civil service beli¬eved that bur¬eaucracy’s function was essentially “the orderly management of decline”.
A report on the Indian bureaucracy by a US think tank concluded that “corrupt bureaucrats are despised but thrive; the honest are respected but do not rise; and idealists end up nowhere”.
Now come to Pakistan.
CSS is one short-cut to an elite life. Just pass one exam – and with luck on your side – you can be sitting along with PM or CM in a decade; distributing your dufferness with etiquette.
Let me elaborate.
What most of CSPs deal with is the budget. There are two kinds of it. Development and Non-Development. Non-Development is the usual non-technical shit; like salary and non-salary expenditures. Development is about PSDP (federal level) or ADP (provincial level) development schemes which pass through different forums and feasibility steps before seeing the approval day. After which starts the release of funds and execution of the schemes.
That’s basic to know the least before chairing a meeting.
Even after serving for decades as CSP, bureaucrats are clueless about development. But then, they sit in every single development meeting and make decisions.
Result: National misery.
Sahiwal Coal Power Project was infeasible. Peshawar BRT is a slap on the face of civil bureaucracy. Lahore’s Orange Line is nothing more than an environmental catastrophe with billions of rupees wasted.
And the bureaucratic crap is faced by the Ministers.
Ministers are guided by these bureaucrats and they face all the media trial. However, the real failure is mainly because of the bureaucrats who are responsible to guide the ministers in the right direction with right decisions.
But as CSPs are surrounded by lickers, they themselves behave like lickers around ministers. To keep posts. To stay in big cities. To save humiliation of thrown faraway or becoming OSD.
The purpose of CSS was to offer secured jobs to exceptional candidates so that they can stand against ministers with infeasible demands. Yet, every single major project in every single field is political.
I remember a Secretary with 22+ years of service – who remained a Divisional Commissioner too – once asked after a development meeting “what do I have to do here?” A file was placed in front of him for signatures, which he did. Job done.
Railways. Always remained under CSPs. Ugliness of this department is a routine news.
Pakistan Post is an example which doesn’t need elaboration.
Police is another nightmare. People – even after robbed of their property and prestige – prefer not to visit police stations. With increasing bribery and crime and police brutality, one can see how dumb and clueless their top hierarchy is.
Health, education, roads and all similar departments fall under the ‘prestigious’ PAS – former DMG. And 99% of DMGs are suited duffers.
Mess, car, driver, chef, a couple of lickers around. Other than that, a couple of poetic verses – preferably Faiz and Shakespeare – and little Marxism to impress you with historical jargons.
And that’s it. National misery sustains.
CSPs don’t know but every single one is made fun of behind their back. People, their subordinates, laugh at them and mimic how the clown acted like Lincoln.
So, what’s the solution?
First thing is, CSS is outdated. CSPs should be promoted after their fair performance assessment. Those who were behind serious mishaps – train delays and accidents, merciless killing of people in police custody, billions of rupees wasted on non-feasible projects, etc. – should be punished with termination.
Technocracy should be promoted. CSPs should gradually be put into clerical stuff as they are nothing more than white-collar-clerks and have no technical knowledge.
IT sector should be managed by IT veterans.
Police should be guided by those who have done research work in criminology.
Health should be under health professionals.
Development should be seen by those who have spent years in development and planning jobs.
Here, people with exceptional education and research work stand in queue and wait to salute a BA pass bureaucrat. Don’t get offended. But if that will continue, Pakistan will keep on begging IMF and the world to sort its mess.