A string of cases have landed our civil servants into hot waters. Those involved in mega corruption scandals are catching at a straw. They are trying to wriggle out of the mess; they created, by becoming an approver (`crown’ witness). This ignominious subterfuge protects the approver from criminal punishment but retain stigma of criminality on his forehead. The approver clause is a handy lever to tame `pliable’ mandarins who waltzed to the tune of authorities (ministers, chief ministers and their ilk).
Our civil servants are heirs to British (or All India Civil Service). But they have forgotten what the British Civil Service Code (or Jinnah) taught. Britain’s Civil Service Code, 2006, says: “You must not act in a way that is determined by party political considerations, or use official resources for party political purposes.” Here I quote two speeches by Quaid-e-Azam. In his address to the Constituent Assembly on August 11, 1947, Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah laid down the principles of governance. Among other things, he stressed the need for exterminating corruption. The widespread corruption in our society caricatures the Quaid’s vision. Corruption weakens a body politic. It alienates people. In an informal talk (April 14, 1948) to civil officers at Government House, Peshawar, the Quaid said, `The first thing I want to tell you is this, that you should not be influenced by any political pressure, by any political party, or individual politicians’…`Service is the backbone of the State.
Governments are formed, governments are defeated, prime ministers come and go, ministers come and go, but you stay on, and, therefore, there is a very great responsibility placed on your shoulders, You should have no hand in supporting this political parry or that political party, this political leader or that political leader _ that is not your business…While impressing this upon you on your side, I wish also to take the opportunity of impressing upon our leaders and politicians in the same way that if they ever try to interfered with you and bring political pressure to bear upon you, which leads to nothing but corruption, bribery and nepotism_ which is a horrible disease and for which not only your province, but others too, are suffering _if they try and interfered with you in this way, I say, they are doing nothing but disservice to Pakistan. I hope that each one of you understands his own sphere of duty and responsibility…each one has to do his duty within the sphere to which he belongs’.
How to cope with political pressure, witch hunt and victimization? The Quaid answers, `Putting pressure on service people, I know, is a very common fault of politicians and those with influence with political parties but I hope that you will from today, resolve and determine to act according to my humble advice that I am giving you. Maybe some of you may fall victims for not satisfying the whims of ministers…you may even be put to trouble not because you are doing anything wrong but because you are doing right. Sacrifices have to be made and I appeal to you, if need be, to come forward and make the sacrifice and the position of being put on the blacklist or being otherwise worried or troubled’ (Roedad Khan, Pakistan: A Dream gone Sour, pp182-183). ZA Bhutto played havoc with civil service through lateral-entry system. Most lateral entrants (district management, foreign service, etc.) were venal, corrupt, and incompetent.
Some suggestions are in order. `Approver’ provision should be expunged from law-books. Annual Confidential Reports should be signed by a group of senior civil servants themselves. Civil servants should be transferred, deputed to other departments, or punished or promoted by their own seniors. No political involvement. Our defence services have retained their discipline only because the defence minister is a titular figurehead. In India, the posting, transfer, promotions, and disciplinary actions are decided by the head of the civil service department (ex officio cabinet secretary) in consultation with senior permanent secretaries.
Let us follow good points from British and other civil services to keep Pakistan united.
Rawalpindi, August 9.