The rules regarding the federal secretariat and their plain reading shows that federal secretariat is supposed to be a policy making centre where intellectual resources of all occupational groups are to be pooled and peculiar experience of each occupational group is supposed to be handy during the process of policy making. This is precisely the reason that the posts of Deputy Secretary, Joint Secretary, Additional Secretary and Secretary were never made the exclusive domain of Secretariat Group or any other group. As a matter of fact lateral entrants and competent persons from private sector are also eligible, if interested, to be appointed in the Federal Secretariat. Against all the posts of Deputy Secretary and above, a provision existed in the constitutive memorandum of Secretariat Group that officers of other groups were eligible to be appointed against these posts.

Following are a few objective observations regarding the SRO which has reformed the pecking order of the federal bureaucracy:

a.       Appointment to Civil Service has been made the exclusive domain of the FPSC – an independent constitutional body which is beyond influence of any governmental or political authority. The generally misused element of discretion has been eliminated. Previously, it was the authority of the President to make such appointment. Now through the SRO, the President has been stripped of this power and any appointment or encadrement in PAS will be through FPSC. Induction of Armed Forces’ officers from Balochistan is a case in point. This induction will be through FPSC in adherence to the best practices of transparency and meritocracy.

b.       30% quota from the existing share of PAS has been allocated for the Provincial Services. This was historically done in case ICS and CSP, but was abandoned in 1973. This abandonment created a genuine grouse amongst the provincial cadres. A decision to re-activate induction of Provincial officers in erstwhile DMG was made in September 1993, but it is only through this SRO that that decision has been operationalised. This 30% quota will be in addition to the share already available with the provincial services. So quite logically, the provincial services stand to gain immensely. Moreover, this encadrement will be done through FPSC to nullify the chances of any favour to anyone. At last the Provincial Management Service (PMS) officers have got the opportunity of getting inducted into the prestigious Pakistan Administrative Service (PAS), formerly known as District Management Group (DMG). As per decision, the PMS Officers will be encadred into PAS at the level of grade 19. Under the encadrement policy, 30% posts on the PAS cadre in grade 19 will be filled by PMS officers who, after encadrement, will become part of the Pakistan Administrative Service. The 30% seats reserved for encadrement will be further divided among the provinces on the basis of population. Punjab will thus get 56% share of the 30% quota. The sources privy to these administrative developments have revealed that utmost effort will be made to maintain high standards of quality in these inductions. The Provincial Selection Boards of the respective provinces will select officers and shall send the names to the Federal Public Service Commission which shall conduct examination to adjudge capability of the candidates.

d.      The decision is in line with Article 240 of the Constitution of Pakistan and Civil Service of Pakistan (Composition& Cadre Rules) 1954, which envisage an ‘All-Pakistan Service’ common to the federation and the provinces and comprising both the federal and the encadred officers from the provincial services. The new encadrement policy will brighten the career prospects of the PMS officers, as this induction will be in addition to their existing quota. The time span of promotion of PMS officers from grade 17 to 18 will also be reduced due to two-pronged vertical movement in grade 19. Administrative experts believe that apart from ending wrangling between the PAS (DMG) and the PMS and creating bonhomie between them, the decision will strengthen the bonds of federation

e….. Ample quota has been given to all service groups, especially Commerce & Trade Group, military lands and cantonment, railways, Customs, Income tax, Information Group and Postal Group, in Federal Secretariat. These posts will be in addition to the service structure and their cadre already available with these services. Obviously, the promotions of these services will get rapid as compared to the current pace.

f.      It is through this SRO that the number of Secretaries belonging to PAS has been fixed and in fact curtailed. Historically number of DMG officers serving as Secretaries has been oscillating between 85% to 95% and is presently at 93%. Through this SRO, the share of PAS has been set at 65% i.e. a massive reduction of 30%. This has been done to make way for all other service groups and to reform Federal Secretariat as it was conceived to be.

g.      Service groups, other than PAS and Secretariat Group are controlled by various parent Ministries e.g. Ministry of Defence in case of Military Lands & Cantonments Group, Ministry of Commerce for Commerce and Trade Group, and Ministry of Communications for Postal Service. But isn’t it sheer injustice that to be posted even in their parent ministry, ML&CG officers have to go on deputation i.e. they are stranger even in own parent departments. Through this SRO this anomaly has been addressed and redressed.

h.        OMG, the supposedly feeding cadre of Secretariat Group, which in fact it is not, is generally ranked 7th or 8th in list of priorities filed by the CSS candidates. But within secretariat they arrogate to themselves the role of controlling all other services.

i.        Another disinformation needs to be debunked. Police Service and Foreign Service are unaffected by this SRO. They are governed under their respective PSP and FSP Rules which are intact and undisturbed by this SRO.

j.      As far as promotions are concerned, the 17th Common of OMG is in BS-21 and officers of 10th Common INFORMATION RAILWAYS POSTAL AND MILITARY LAND have just reached BS-21. Through this SRO, the officers of other groups have been given a better chance to rise faster and contribute more.

k.        Last but not the least, even the Secretariat Group is minimally affected as now they can be promoted against posts of Additional Secretary in addition to their regular share of Senior Joint Secretaries. This opportunity was not previously available. In the last CSB, officers of Secretariat Group have in fact been promoted against the posts of Additional Secretaries.

It is through this unjustly impugned SRO, that for the first time in the history of civil services, the members of groups with slow promotion prospects, can validly hope for an opportunity to rise to the policy making level and contribute in making policies which have a touch of reality.

This was a long overdue to enhance the federal character of PAS like Police Service. Provincial Civil Servants, who would be inducted through FPSC i.e. transparently, have been given an added advantage they will be liable to serve in federation or their home province. Though belatedly, but very aptly, the government has ended the exclusivity of PAS (erstwhile DMG) to the benefit of provincial civil services. (Contributed)