The inefficiency of the countless ministries running the affairs of Pakistan is no secret, but the sitting government goes a step ahead to set new precedents. The government has failed to appoint permanent heads to some twelve ministries and divisions. How any organization can function without a strong leadership and direction is beyond common sense, but affairs are being run, and targets are being met- such are the official claims. If this is true, that we are doing well without these missing managers; why do we need so many official posts to begin with?

Pakistan is perhaps one of the few countries in the world that requires a horde of government officials to carry out a simple task. Our bureaucracy is bloated, over paid and grossly inefficient, and state run enterprises like PIA and Pak Steel Mills are even more so.

The appointment of permanent secretaries is the Prime Minister’s responsibility and has been delayed for at least four months. What is unfortunate is that several senior officers of grade 21 have been awaiting their promotion to grade 22, and there is certainly no dearth of qualified bureaucrats. Poor governance has caused ministries to become redundant and talents and skills of people go to waste. The Sharif governance style remains colonial at best— the state machinery is run through a group made up of the Prime ministers family members and close friends. The cabinet has reportedly met only three times in 2015. If ministerial duty is just a farce then why spend national exchequer on these ministries?

Sadly there has been little progress in achieving a more accountable government. Wide roads and metro trains have become the key development priority, yet not one progressive initiative on healthcare or education has been launched. The Finance Ministry has perfected the art of concealing the true financial position of the government from the public and yet no one is held accountable for inefficiency or corruption.

The government must prioritise and shake up its government structure to eliminate the unnecessary. The cabinet of the United States makes do with fewer than 20 members, while the population of the country is much larger than ours. Indian PM Modi cut down his cabinet recently, to streamline decision making. We have too many ministry portfolios and departments- we do not need this many ministers and secretaries. The international standard is to have a smaller cabinet, but in Pakistan these positions are less about management and more about rewarding party members. The more rewards, the happier the egos of politicians. As the cabinet is large, individual minister bears a smaller cost as the responsibility for government spending or deficits is divided among more ministers. This means, that more ministers can get away with more problems by passing the buck.