Civil servants and other government functionaries in high and low positions are supposed to perform their duties in accordance with the law and constitution. On the other hand, political leaders who assume power through whatever means, want them to dance at their bidding. This behaviour of the ruling class causes conflict between them - the (civil) servant and the masters. If a government servant in a high position hesitates to oblige a leader to serve his purpose he is shown the door, as has happened in the recent transfer of Police Commissioner, Karachi after 5 months of his posting. Frequent posting and transfer of civil servants causes resentment and discontentment and they stop taking interest in their duties.
However, the opportunist officers fall in line with rulers and their wishes. During my long service starting in 1942 and ending in 1970, I have seen various occasions where political leaders and bureaucrats clashed over petty matters, the former wished the later to carry out his orders - right or wrong - to serve his cause. Here I mention only one such incident, when a scrupulously honest, unapproachable and high ranking officer whom I was serving under, was called by a minister to his office. He hesitantly went to meet him, and returned looking disturbed and offended. He enquired about an appeal file relating to the allotment of an evacuee property on which he had earlier heard arguments of both parties and reserved his decision. When I took the file to him, he read it and dictated his judgment and ordered me to inform the minister.
When I contacted the minister’s office over telephone and as soon as I finished my conversation informing him about the decision, the minister outrageously put forth his venom against civil servants. After a few weeks, the officer was transferred. My experience taught me that unless services of officers in high position are constitutionally protected it is difficult for them to carry on their duties, honestly and impartially. Rather, they are forced to assume that their services were at the pleasure of their masters whom they should not displease. The same practice is still continuing, in such scenario the talk about merit, rule of law and transparency is nothing than a joke. The incumbent government need to give serious thought to this issue and provide them constitutional protection. If it is not solved properly it may lead to a chaos.
Islamabad, June 8.