What should a civil servant do if he or she believes that the course of action proposed by the elected government or superior officials to deal with a certain situation might exacerbate the problem and prove to be counterproductive? As per law, the officer is required to convey such reservations to superior officials of the concerned department. Bureaucrats owe their allegiance to no one, except the constitution and laws that govern the system. But that is not how it works in Sharif’s kingdom. King Sharif demands unconditional loyalty and total submission. Nothing less is acceptable. All orders – wise or unwise, lawful or unlawful – must be obeyed without question. And those who dare raise their voice or share their professional opinion will find their voices drowned out by trumpets and careers swiftly cut short by the blade of power. What they deem to be justice will be delayed and denied, and when the sun has set and risen again, only Sharif’s justice would have been done and seen to be done.

Former SSP Operations Islamabad, Muhammad Ali Nekokara, finds himself being reprimanded for the horrendous crimes of second-guessing and sharing professional opinion in a professional manner. An officer of impeccable reputation, Mr Nekokara committed two grave errors when tasked to deal with protestors from PAT and PTI gathered in Islamabad. First, he actually thought about the seriously damaging implications of using force against a large number of charged protestors. Second, he wrote a letter to Secretary Interior Ministry conveying his professional assessment of the situation in accordance with the latter’s instructions. Despite disagreement, when the time came, Mr Nekokara obeyed his command and employed force to prevent protestors from reaching the PM House, which led to the filing of two cases against him by PTI and PAT. Seeing as the clashes resulted in loss of life and hundreds of people being injured and in view of the insistence of some superior officers on using unnecessary force, Mr Nekokara wrote another letter to concerned officials and requested to be posted elsewhere. What followed is on record. Now that IG Balochistan has completed his sham inquiry into the case on the instructions of Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, Mr Nekokara is likely to be dismissed since the only thing left is for the Secretary Establishment Division to issue the notification.

While the PML-N government eventually followed Mr Nekokara’s advice and benefitted from it, he is still being punished to send a clear message to everyone: you may have taken your oath on the constitution, but you must bend to the will of the political leadership. Such a government cannot be expected to reform the bureaucratic system, which has suffered immensely due to relentless political meddling. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif may consider returning to Saudi Arabia if he favours monarchy over democracy. He must mend his ways, and allow others to work with the honesty and integrity he could never muster.