I am quite perplexed about the word “Bureaucracy” in the modern world, especially Pakistan. Although Max Weber put forth the concept of bureaucracy as a logical and efficient system, it has become a symbol of inefficiency and ineffectiveness globally, more so in Pakistan. Among other reasons, one is the constant infighting among various departments for want of more power and influence.

One the one hand, in our country, the civil services of Pakistan are considered the elite services comprising officers of various departments. On the other hand, there is a hierarchy of power and significance among the departments or groups that come under the civil services with the DMG being the top of the food chain. This hierarchy creates a rift type situation among the groups such as DMG and police, which are supposed to work in close harmony. As PS to the commissioner back in time, I had the opportunity to witness many incidents where such rift for influence led to skirmishes among the CSS groups. Most of the times, such conflicts were a function of the egotism of the CSS officers.

For example, at one occasion, during the anti- Ayub (aka Field Marshal Ayub Khan) movement, the commissioner Rawalpindi Mr. Wajihuddin Ahmed and the DIG Police Rawalpindi Mr. Sahibzada Abdur Rauf were responsible to control crowds and supress the movement. One day, both the commissioner and the DIG were driving around the city to ensure peace and order. At the end of the day they drove back to the place where they both lived. The commissioner was driving the car and the DIG was sitting next to him. Right when they pulled into the residence and stopped the car, Mr. Rauf received a message from a DSP traffic Mr. Davis that a mob was coming together through Iqbal road to converge at the Committee Chowk for a protest rally.

Mr. Rauf, the DIG promptly replied that effective force be used to stop people from gathering. At this point, Mr. Wajihuddin (commissioner) literally, grabbed the wireless from the DIG and instructed the DSP to use effective force, but not resort to firing at any cost. This led to a heated discussion between the DIG and the commissioner as the DIG felt that his authority was undermined by the commissioner by passing direct orders to his subordinate. The commissioner explained that he did this to clarify to the DSP that arms were not to be used at any cost. The commissioner believed that use of firearms to control the crowd would lead to huge problem, which in the end would have to be explained by him (commissioner) to the superiors. In the end DIG agreed, but not before long discussion and a heated exchange of words. In essence both were right, but it happened due to ego of both officers.

The commissioner should have asked the DIG to clarify the extent to effective force to be used. Similarly, given the urgency of the situation, the DIG could have let it go as commissioner might really be concerned that the order might have led to loss of human life. Such conflicts and skirmishes continue among various departments of the CSS. The government must introduce reforms that ensure better working and harmony removing the perceived power differences among the CSS groups for better and more effective bureaucracy in the country.