Farooq Hameed Khan The orders from the top syndrome that afflicts the ruling elite not only reflects the poor state of governance in the democratic set-up, but has also played havoc with many of the countrys major public sector institutions. A former Chairman of CDA (an organisation now almost bankrupt) was rewarded with the post of Chief Secretary Sindh, on orders from the top, despite directives of the Supreme Court for disciplinary action against this official in a case related to gross misuse of authority. Even the summary for this posting was moved by the higher authorities. In the most recent case, an ex NAB convict, NRO beneficiary and prison buddy of the Prime Minister was appointed Managing Director of OGDCL in total disregard of government procedures. Most shocking was the Establishment Secretarys reported disclosure during the Supreme Court hearing, that no summary was moved to appoint the new MD OGDCL and orders had come from the higher authorities. Assuming that the Establishment Division was unaware of the individuals past record, it should have at least advised the high-ups to seek a security or intelligence clearance before issuing his notification as Managing Director OGDCL, is normally done in case of the appointments to sensitive government posts. Moreover, it was also the duty of the Petroleum Ministry to ensure the transparent and merit-based selection to this post from a panel of reputed experts in this field. In fact, the post of MD OGDCL should have been advertised to select the most suitable technocrat for this job. The very thought of the four billion dollar OGDCL empire, the driving engine of the countrys energy sector, being run by a person with dubious credentials and not even a simple graduate sends chills down the spine. It was the worst case of breach of public trust which further dented the Chief Executive and the ruling partys image. The nation owes the sincerest thanks to the media that exposed this scam (like so many others) and the Honourable Chief Justice for taking suo motu notice which ultimately forced the government to withdraw the notification and saved the OGDCL from being thrown to the wolves. But here is another sixer Given the unique nature of the job, the merits of recent appointment of a senior PIA pilot as Director General Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the first ever such in the organisations history, is highly questionable. Did connections with those at the very top, too, influence this nomination? It is essential to understand that the CAA is the supreme regulatory authority for all commercial airlines, including PIA, that are licensed to operate within the country and abroad. The CAAs mandate is diverse and includes checks and controls over airworthiness of aircraft, flight and ground safety standards, aircraft accident investigation and enforcing International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) regulations in the countrys aviation set-ups. Some questions arise. If CAA is the Inspecting Authority in respect of PIA, is it appropriate to appoint a serving PIA pilot as the CAAs Head? Can the conflict of interest allow the 'operator to act as a 'regulator? With both PIA and CAA being managed by PIA pilots, are PIAs operation and maintenance related lapses, including aircraft safety issues, flight mismanagement and pilot errors not liable to be compromised? Isnt passenger safety under threat? Would the new DG CAA remain neutral and enforce merit in the issue and renewal of licenses, training and medical standards of his colleagues in PIA? Will CAA earnestly pursue the recovery of its outstanding dues from PIA? Can other PIA competitors expect CAA decisions to remain unbiased? The CAA earns billions in revenues through airport services and airline landing and airspace utilisation charges from domestic and foreign carriers. It spends colossal amounts on the maintenance of airports, runways, navigation systems etc. Is the CAA which is currently well structured and financially stable, too, destined to meet a fate similar as PIA or the Steel Mills and become a victim of politically-motivated inductions and misgovernance? The lesser said about PIAs affairs, the better. When its top man is a choice of the top, based more on old relationship than merit, no wonder the organisation faces an almost martial law under the Essential Services Act . It may be recalled that instead of appointing a well qualified, capable and honest technocrats or experts to lead the Pakistan Steel Mills, it was handed over to an incompetent, retired bureaucrat, with no experience of managing such a huge and specialist set-up. From a nine billion rupees profit few years ago, this national asset crashed to over Rs 35 billion in losses within a year due to corruption, financial mismanagement and poor administration. Sadly, the Steel Mills now await a Rs 20 billion bailout package. But this syndrome has also found its way in our Foreign Office institutions abroad. The reported grant of visas to over 150 US and Indian citizens by our Embassy in a neighbouring Gulf country on the orders of a person closely related to the topmost elite, was in sheer violation of the laid down SOPs. Issuing visas to foreigners from places other than their countries of origin is a breach of national security. So were these dubious visitors subjected to prior security clearance by our intelligence agencies? This needs to be linked with the reports in the western media about the involvement of former Blackwater (now Xe Services) mercenaries and other foreign undercover agents in terrorist acts in the country. Truly, Pakistans governance problems are compounded with the highly politicised bureaucracy (with rare exceptions) that fails to stand up against the illegal orders of their political masters. In fact, they collude hand-in-glove with their political sponsors. If today, our bureaucrats are alleged for dancing to the tune of the politicians, they have only themselves to blame. Gone are the days when confident junior baboos would boldly point out the violation of rules to their seniors, or when senior bureaucrats would boldly defy in black and white, a Ministers illegal order. As beneficiaries of out of turn promotions, choice postings and even corruption gains, these government servants no longer remain the potent and credible force as seen in the 60s or 70s. If personal loyalty , friendship and past jail relationships were foremost criterion for high profile appointments, then the jail cook, warden and cell waiter, who looks after the jailed VVIPs of those times, too , deserve to be elevated to lucrative government positions. It pains all Pakistanis when the countrys top leadership sacrifices national interest over their personal considerations. When government summaries start moving from the lower echelons to the top, when meritocracy prevails over cronyism and nepotism and blind orders stop flowing from the top, perhaps, some semblance of good governance may become visible in managing the affairs of the state. The writer is a retired brigadier Email: fhkhan54@gmail.com