Faisal Ali Ghumman
Independence in official working is a valuable asset for any institution, department, organization or company in terms of service delivery and institutional development.
The oversight of any such platform though is necessary to monitor the working and performance in line with certain rules and regulations, but it should not be mixed with unnecessary and undue interventions.
The service delivery in any official department in Pakistan seems to touch the lowest-ebbs presently, thanks to immature political systems, corruption and mismanagement.
Talk about any political or military regime in the 70 years history of the country and we find demerit, nepotism, favouritism, mismanagement, poor decision-making and the mother of all evils, uncalled-for administrative (political) interference.
The 22-year struggle in the name of justice and finally the premiership’s throne landed in the basket of Imran Khan, a former cricketer and chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI).
Two-and-half months have passed and the sitting prime minister, Imran Khan, seems to deviate from his principled stands whether we talk about important political and economic decisions or governance model.
For example, how he can justify his actions and u-turns in multiple cases of abrupt changes in administrative positions is beyond imagination. The transfer of Pakpattan District Police Officer linking to his wife’s ex-husband; abrupt transfer of Provincial Police Officer Punjab Muhammad Tahir for taking some independent decisions in police postings; removal of police officers linking to Model Town killing apparently to appease Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT); and removal of Islamabad police chief on the complaint of federal minister Azam Swati; speaks high volumes of unjustified and unwise interference in administration.
After coming to power, Mr Khan had spoken on the record that bureaucrats must discharge their duties without any political and undue interference and state will protect their postings by restoring their lost honour.
I am not against the political interference aimed to improve public service delivery and our elected representatives should flood public offices to get genuine relief for their voters. But decades-old culture of influencing district machinery for personal and illegal favours need to be done away with.
The people of Pakistan were strongly feeling that Khan keeping his verbal promises will try to change the decades-old culture, but unfortunately, the facts and reports reaching to this writer show discouraging moves.
“You just wish to get any officer posted in the field and your dream will come true” says a field police officer while quoting a member of Punjab Assembly.
This simply means PTI doesn’t look much different from the working approach of PML-N, PPP or PML-Q. Outgoing IGP Islamabad Jan Muhammad’s request to the Supreme Court to get him excused from performing duty simply meant that once PM didn’t want him as IG and his continuation despite SC’s orders might have not landed him high spirit.
This is what we say fear and uncertainty have become the hallmark of public service for bureaucrats that they are unable to find culture of self-reliance in professional matters.
Now-a-days we hear the PTI government determines to transfer PAS and PSP officers serving more than 10 years in a province to other provinces and in federal departments is a good step but if is taken not on liking and disliking. The government must get the transfers implemented in letter and spirit if the move is based on giving equal opportunities and multi-professional exposure to the officers for better service delivery.
If the provinces continue backing long-serving officers for reasons better known to them against the federal government’s move, the merit-oriented governance will remain a distant dream.
We have already seen in the past the provinces blatantly violating the five-year rotation policy about civil servants outside their home province.
At the outset, PM Imran Khan needs to restore confidence in bureaucrats by giving them independence in working and tenure stability, resolving any point of difference logically and establishing civil servant-politician relation.
If the elected representatives down to the grass-root level, ministers and advisors continue flooding the government offices for their ulterior motives rather genuine problems of their voters, the nation will eventually lose hope that no politician in Pakistan can envision the dream of Quaid-i-Azam about Independent Pakistan.
To continue with the past traditions means to serve the interests of individuals and if our Imran Khan was compelled to welcome tainted politicians to party folds for number game before general elections, now being prime minister he could at least bring his team into a discipline.
It is also a professional and moral obligation on civil servants who at the crossroads to come forward, show unity under the umbrella of their unions and stand against the decades-old culture of political interference.
–The writer is Country Editor The Business, Ex-Journalist Daily Dawn and an analyst.