The Indian Civil Service has been the finest civil service of the world. By now almost every ICS officer has departed from this world (the only survivor known to this writer is AGN Kazi), all CSP officers have retired and, inevitably, are dying. A distinguished and defiant among them, Zafar Iqbal, died some days ago. A befitting tribute has been paid to him in this paper by his once colleague and former finance minister, Sartaj Aziz, whose commitment to the values of civil service has survived his entry in politics. Many in the CSP cadre, in their own time, tried to save the neutrality of the civil service. The price to be paid was being an OSD, suppression or even dismissal. Zafar Iqbal was one of them. The common knowledge now is that CSP`s successor, DMG, has lost the professionalism that once was the hallmark of the ICS and later, to a lesser extent, of the CSP. The civil servants now, as a class, are treated as allies of the politicians. That is the foremost, if not the only, explanation for the growing lawlessness and popular discontent. As elections approach a few who still resist or defy will be sidelined if they, too, do not succumb. The plane fact that needs to be recognised is that only impartial civil servants along the line from constable to superintendent of police and district magistrate selected on merit and trained in their craft can maintain law and order and not the ministers, generals or judges. Polls held on schedule, or earlier, under partisan officials with doubts also hanging over the impartiality of the election commission would make matters only worse.


Karachi, April 12.