“Superiority is always detested.”

–Baltasar Gracian

They call themselves blue blooded bureaucrats. Some of them believe they were born to rule this country. A majority of Pakistan’s civil bureaucracy is at best mediocre with several goofs holding important positions. This state of affairs has continued for too long and requires radical reform in case the country is to move forward.

The recent tussle between the DMG group and the PSP cadre has shown that there is not only deep seated animosity amongst these service groups but also the district management group continues to harbor a hidden desire to dominate other services, mainly the police service of Pakistan. It was in 1975 that the first attempt was made by the CSP cadre to have a stranglehold on other services specifically the police service of Pakistan.

At that time the provincial Home Secretary in connivance with the secretary to the Chief Minister formulated a plan in which the post of additional inspector general police special branch was to be re-designated as director special branch.

Although a harmless move on the surface, it meant that once the job had been re-designated, it would become easier for the CSP cadre to post one of their own as director special branch without much hassle. At that time, the inspector general of police was the no nonsense Rao Abdur Rasheed Khan who was not even invited to the meeting which sought the approval of the Chief Minister and subsequently the cabinet for this move. The inspector general of police was informed at the eleventh hour about this meeting and when he came to the Chief Ministers office, Secretary Finance, Chief Secretary, Home Secretary and the Secretary to the Chief Minister were surprised on his arrival. The meeting ended in a huff when Rao Rasheed Khan asked as to who was behind this proposal and then angrily threw the file towards the Secretary to the Chief Minister and then left the meeting. The proposal was scrapped and the policemen won the day.

It would be pertinent to recall that former Pakistani Prime Minister, Mr Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto introduced wide ranging administrative reforms to clean up the mess and to bring in not only efficient people but also to set the tone for the country towards progress and prosperity. The hallmark of Mr Bhutto’s proposals was that there would be five administrative secretaries at the Federal level who would be taken from the PSP cadre. Another decision taken by the then Prime Minister was that the commissioners of the divisions and the DIGs would be at par meaning thereby that both these officials would be grade 20 officers.

Before this, the DIG was a grade 19 official. It was also decided that in future the commissioner will not be the reporting officer for the DIGs of the divisions which allowed much needed fresh air and autonomy to the police service of Pakistan. While Mr Bhutto could only manage three slots of Federal secretaries to the PSP cadre, the resistance by the DMG group was so fierce who manipulated in such a way that the administrative reforms were never implemented in their true spirit and with the passage of time lost their significance as far as streamlining the civil bureaucracy is concerned.

Therefore, when the present proposal was put forward by the DMG group that three critical departments of the police should be given under the administrative control of the provincial home secretary saner elements within the PSP cadre raised their voice against it. A majority of the PSP class was disappointed with the role played by the present incumbent holding the job of Inspector General of Police. Mr Khan Baig was cajoled into a position where he had no choice but to inform the political leadership about the widespread discontentment which could even lead to a revolt in the police department. Sensing the mood of the policemen, the provincial political leadership of Punjab realized that it was not a proper move to bifurcate the police in the way the DMG group wanted and assured the policemen that the counter terrorism department and special branch would indeed remain under the administrative control of the police department.

The example provides an example of the caliber of the country’s leadership.

Now to clean up the civil services of the many different evils plaguing it, it is mandatory to shore up the administrative structure of bureaucracy to the point where it can truly deliver. First and foremost, the ‘mandarin mentality’ needs to be virtually erased. Mandarins were Chinese bureaucrats and hence a term of derision for officials who did nothing but enjoyed all the perks and privileges the state had to offer.

Secondly and perhaps even more importantly, the political interference in the day-to-day work of the bureaucracy must come to an end. The civil servants ought to have a guarantee that in the line of duty, being on the right side of the law would never make them vulnerable to any retaliatory action (normally postings and transfers) by MNA, MPA and the ministers’ brigade.

With the prevailing mindset of the politicians and sadly, with plenty of mandarins working as personal servants instead of servants of the state, no redemption will be possible either for this country or its people.

The writer has been associated with various newspapers as editor and columnist.