Bureaucracy runs the state machinery. But the bureaucracy in Pakistan is living up to its reputation. Different ministries/divisions were assigned tasks under the directives of the Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan; the ministries followed the standard practice, i.e., working half willingly. Therefore, the delay was a natural outcome. However, it is good to know that the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) is keeping track of the things. And in this regard, the PMO has issued red letters to 27 ministries and divisions to do all that is necessary for the completion of the designated tasks by September 9.

Though the red letters are nothing short of reprimanding the ministries, however, will these departments ever pull their socks up? Unfortunately, the ministries and divisions in Pakistan are best known for their lack of will to do anything. Were the tasks the PM assigned to these ministries too burdensome?

The assigned chores, as shown by one news report, were simple. All that the government wanted to get were lists regarding vacant positions, names of officers eligible for promotion and provision of data of the record to be archived. But even such simple errands prove uphill tasks for our officials. The failure to meet the deadline is not because of the lack of capacity. The real reason for getting red letters is the organisational behaviour of these organs of the state.

Probably, the delay that these ministries have displayed so far will inform the PM Khan on the working environment of these ministries. As the chief executive of the state, PM Khan should have made things clear before his ministries from day one. Then, the PMO would not have witnessed the delay. It’s not wrong then that as the chief executive, PM Khan is also responsible for these ministries’ below-par performance.

The fact that the PMO sends red letters to 27 ministries out of 34 does not paint an image of a tightly run ship. Is the PM losing his grip on the affairs of the state? Or the critical delay owes its explanation to the fact that the chief executive is busy in eliminating corruption and putting the corrupt elements of the society behind bars. Whatever the reasons are, PM Khan need to realise that he must keep a close watch on his cabinet and its performance. Otherwise, he will witness many such critical delays.

The PM needs to understand that it is he who determines the general direction of the government’s activities. It is the PM that ensures coordinated and purposeful work of ministries through his cabinet of ministers. It will be unfortunate to sense that the PM has no clear direction and vision to make the maximum out of the resources available.