‘Service-obituary’ of a power icon
By Javed Iqbal
This genre, perhaps, is the first of its kind in the official rank and file; and, hopefully, it would not be too hard to digest.
To some, it may seem a bit macabre. You may even find it amusing pinprick.
All those who, once, made it to the elite club of civil servants, have to retire one day and leave this most powerful echelon of the government machinery. But, this service-farewell necrology would narrate the sad story of an officer Fawad Hasan Fawad who rose to the possible heights of authority in grade-22 as Principal Secretary to two Prime Ministers, Nawaz Sharif and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi but came skidding to an inelegant halt at the terminal end of his, otherwise, illustrious career. What he earned is notoriety, instead of fame and honor. His unceremonious departure is a big lesson for the young civil servants, who have a dream to serve this nation.
They should avoid licking feet of powerful politicians for some worldly gains.
As a therapeutic part of expressing emotions, the service-obituary would tell a tale, then draw lessons.
An officer, who had known no limits of his ultimate power and authority, faced discreditable arrest and inquiry. He was handcuffed by those ordinary officials who once used to bow before him to get marching orders. It is not a distant past when he was the most powerful bureaucrat on earth in Pakistan but, today, he is an accused and a former prisoner with no power or authority to enjoy the past glory. His heydays are over. He is an ordinary man now; like millions of other hapless Pakistanis. It is quite opposite to the opulent lifestyle once enjoyed by him at the expense of the ordinary taxpayers.
“He was the real premier who ran the state affairs,” said one federal secretary while others said that former PM Sharif would have been a paper horse without his intellect and services. But his political masters were better in playing political games. They, after devising a ‘deal like strategy’ enjoying the luxuries of Avenfield House in London and he is non-entity now.
What lessons may be learnt from the dismal position of a person who once was at the helm of affairs in Pakistan. The young officers may surely benefit from this cruel episode-a cruel link between a lustful politician and a bureaucrat. Those who made him a hero, left him as a ‘zero’ in the desert of life to face the consequences alone. He unceremoniously retired as a prisoner in the jail without any power, respect and prestige of a civil servant. It’s painful that the elite institution of bureaucracy, which once was the backbone of the state, ended up a stooge in the hands of a political cabal.
He was notoriously intolerant and short-tempered; his stubbornness in service was famous too. Also, strong-will and sheer determination remained his other hallmarks. Besides being the best taskmaster, he used to utilize racecourses and manpower quite capably. Even in his waning days in power corridors, he was a model bureaucrat up until the end of his journey there when an accountability bureau screwed him. Alas! the end was inglorious, to say the least.
In grade 21, he used to ‘chair’ high-level selection board meetings to decide promotions of officers in grade 22 like another grade 20 CSP officer, who was superseded but provided training to grade 20 officers for promotion in Punjab.
There are many lessons for the young civil servants in this story. They should remember that Pakistani bureaucracy is the colonial legacy of the coveted Indian Civil Service (ICS) was the powerful hub of administration in British India. Even, Sardar Patel famously called the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) the steel frame of India’s government machinery.
There is a lesson for the officers that they should have absolute loyalty towards the state; integrity and honesty should be the main characteristics of every civil servant. They should not run after politicians for the sake of petty perks and lucrative postings as was a top trend in the last one or two decades.
The federal secretary I talked to concluded his discussion on former iron man quoting somebody “The two hardest things to say in life are hello for the first time and goodbye for the last.”