Bureaucracy in Pakistan (Civil Servants)

What is Bureaucracy?

The term “bureaucracy” is French in origin, Bureaucracyand combines the French word bureau – desk or office – with the Greek word κράτος kratos – rule or political power.

It was coined in the mid-18th century by the French economist Jacques Claude Marie Vincent de Gournay and was a satirical pejorative from the outset. Gournay never wrote the term down, but was later quoted at length in a letter from a contemporary:

The late M. de Gournay…sometimes used to say: “We have an illness in France which bids fair to play havoc with us; this illness is called bureaumania.” Sometimes he used to invent a fourth or fifth form of government under the heading of “bureaucracy.”

— Baron von Grimm

The first known English-language use dates to 1818.[16] Here, too, the sense was pejorative, with Irish novelist Lady Morgan referring to “the Bureaucratie, or office tyranny, by which Ireland has so long been governed.”

… Civil Service is the back-bone of the State [of Pakistan] . 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 …
— Muhammad Ali JinnahFounder of Pakistan 

The civil Bureaucracy is a colonial legacy in this part of the world. The British used to rule the native population through Indian Civil Service(ICS) and most of the officers in ICS were British themselves. It was in the early 20th Century that the Indians also started competing against the British and many Indians eventually made it to the ICS. With time the independence of Pakistan in 1947, the term ‘Central Superior Services’ was used in Pakistan and the concept of All-Pakistan Services continued. The latter consisted of the Civil Service of Pakistan and the Police Service of


Role Of Bureaucracy in Pakistan

PAKISTAN emerged on the world’s map as a sovereign and independent state on August 14, 1947. It is the outcome of a charismatic leadership of Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Allama Muhammad Iqbal and immense sacrifices of the Muslims of Sub-continent. To make this country a prosperous, peaceful and stable state of the world the whole responsibility comes on the shoulders of each segment of society govtofPakistan-officialsdeployment_4-4-2013_95196_lincluding Legislators, Armed forces, civil servants, educationists, students, business community, workers, lawyers and the common public. As far as the civil bureaucracy is concerned, the founder of the nation Quaid-i-Azam gave a roadmap of what he believed was the foremost duty of these bureaucrats. He mentioned. ‘‘Come forward as servants of Islam, organize people economically, socially, educationally and politically and I am sure that you will be a power that will be accepted by everybody.”

The German sociologist, Max Webber, says: “highly trained bureaucratic experts will prevail against the less expert Ministers who ostensibly run the administrative units, the Cabinet which ostensibly guides over any policy and the Legislature which ostensibly makes policy”. It is the bureaucratic group who has been, along with the military generals, formulating the policies and form political as well as an ideological framework of Pakistan. The Quaid addressed in April 1944:“These Ministers are, truly speaking; your servants and you are their virtual masters. You have got the key to remove them from their Ministerial giddy, if they no longer remain alive to their responsibilities.”

Being permanently in office, unlike the politicians, who come and go at their behest, it is they who have the power to actually govern the state as an administrative group. The Quaid addressed to civil officers in April 1948: “The services are the backbone of the state. Governments are formed. Governments are defeated. Prime Ministers come and go, Ministers come and go, but you have to stay on. Therefore, there is a very great responsibility placed on your shoulders. You should have no hand in supporting this political party or that political party, this political leader or that political leader. This is not your business.”

The golden principles stated above, by the father of the nation, bear witness to the great role of Civil Bureaucrats in Pakistan. On many occasions he reminded this cadre, the critical role they have to accomplish. He warned against the ‘‘evils” of bribery, corruption, black-marketing, nepotism and jobbery which he wanted to be eradicated with an “iron hand”. To grapple with the modern challenges, they must make major efforts to solve the resultant crisis prudently. Indeed, civil bureaucracy is the backbone of Pakistan as it runs the affairs of the state. It is such a pedestal on which the whole edifice of the state rests. To keep the wheels of the country moving bureaucrats must be bold to counter the existential challenges on every miserable front. Pakistan has inherited the bureaucratic structure and procedures from the British colonial master.

It exists on the basis of rules, regulations and Constitutional provisions. Unfortunately, since 1947, both the civil and militarybureaucracies have been taking their turns which has been detrimental to the interests of the country. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto introduced administrative reforms in 1973. It was a milestone in the civil services of Pakistan. It is worth mentioning; unless civil bureaucracy is fully empowered the country cannot progress properly. If the civil bureaucrats get emancipation of being politicised or militarized by the successive governments, similarly, if the major decisions like foreign policy, economicdevelopment, fiscal arrangement, internal security etc. are being taken by the civil bureaucrats, then absolutely, they can run the system in an organized and well considered manner. To cut a long story short, it is now indispensable for these bureaucrats to abide by the teachings of Quaid-i-Azam and play a creditable role to build a modern, Islamic, consolidated and democratic Pakistan.


The Politics Of Civil Service Reforms In Pakistan.

Over the course of the past six decades, the so-called steel frame of the civil service that Pakistan inherited from colonial India has become decidedly rusty.1 The ineffectiveness of state institutions due to the diminishing capacity, over-politicization and corruption of the bureaucracy and its political masters is seriously undermining Pakistan’s economic, social and political development. In addition the failure of Pakistan’s state institutions to protect the welfare of its citizens, provide adequate social services and promote the rule of law are eroding the legitimacy and stability of the state.

International attention is belatedly focusing on Pakistan as a result of concerns over the destabilizing effects of an increasingly aggressive Taliban-led insurgency in this nuclear-armed state. One result of this attention is the commitment of large amounts of foreign aid by international donors, including $7.5 billion by the U.S. government over the next five years. The rapid increase in foreign aid, however, combined with the decreasing capacity of Pakistan’s state institutions to spend these funds in an effective and accountable manner, are likely to result in much of this aid simply fueling the very corruption that is eating away the legitimacy of state institutions.

This paper argues that, for these large amounts of foreign aid to have significant benefits, the government of Pakistan and its international donors will have to prioritize rebuilding and repairing the dangerously weakened steel frame of the civil service.3 After briefly providing some historical context, the paper outlines some of the main civil service reform priorities. It then discusses some of the political factors and interest groups that have contributed to the very limited reform progress to date. The paper concludes that future progress will not depend on more donor-driven technical assessments of what needs to be done, but rather on better strategies and tactics to address the politics of civil service reform, including creating a broader constituency supporting reform.


Historical Background

Pakistan’s colonial heritage has heavily influenced its political culture as well as its bureaucratic and political institutions.4 For the purposes of this study, the legacy of executive rule by a powerful bureaucracy is particularly worth highlighting. During the 19th and 20th centuries, colonial administrators developed powerful and highly centralized bureaucratic institutions, administered by the famed Indian Civil Service (ICS), to rule the empire. While representative institutions were gradually introduced into colonial India, the role of these elected bodies was to serve as advisory rather than policymaking bodies, and to deal with local administrative matters rather than substantive issues. They were never intended to be democratic institutions that transferred power to elected representatives, but rather were designed to help legitimize and strengthen the authority of the bureaucratic state.5 The power imbalance between the very strong bureaucratic institutions that Pakistan inherited from colonial India and the very weak representative and democratic institutions has been one of the greatest causes of political instability in Pakistan since its independence.

During the six decades since the departure of the last British colonial administrator, Pakistan’s bureaucratic institutions have remained much stronger than its democratic institutions. The concentration of power in the executive branch, usually controlled directly or indirectly by the civil and military bureaucracies, has been at the expense of the legislature as well as the judiciary. Like the elected institutions during the colonial period, Pakistani legislatures have often had little more than an advisory or rubber stamp function, do not usually initiate legislation and serve primarily to legitimize the exercise of power by the executive branch of government. It is the executive, supported by the bureaucracy, that typically initiates legislation, often bypassing the National Assembly altogether by promulgating presidential ordinances.6 The major change that has taken place over time is that the power and influence of the civilian bureaucracy has increasingly been replaced by the power and influence of the military.

A second colonial legacy that still heavily influences Pakistan’s political culture and institutions, as well as its electoral politics, is the institutionalization of patron-client political relationships between the bureaucracy and local elites. In return for patronage—often in the form of land grants, pensions and titles—feudal landlords, religious leaders and tribal and clan leaders were co-opted by colonial administrators to provide political stability and collect revenues. After independence, this direct patron-client relationship between the bureaucracy and local elites strengthened the image of the bureaucracy as the providers of patronage, influence and security and undermined the development of political parties that normally would have played this intermediary role.7 The bureaucracy’s important role as patron also contributed to the desire of every family to have one member employed in government service to serve as a problem-solver and provider of patronage.


Civil Service Reform Priorities

The limited progress on civil service reform in Pakistan has not been due to a lack of knowledge about what needs to be done. Over the course of the past sixty years there have been more than twenty studies on administrative reform prepared by various government committees or commissions (including six since 1996), that have clearly identified the most serious problems.8 Instead, the lack of progress is due primarily to political factors and ineffective political strategies for pushing through reforms. The following section briefly examines some of the major civil service reform priorities in Pakistan and describes some of the political factors that have contributed to the lack of progress in addressing them.

Reducing the Politicization of the Bureaucracy

From 1947 to 1971 the civilian bureaucracy played the dominant role in Pakistan’s policymaking and as such was insufficiently controlled or influenced by elected politicians. During this period, there was limited scope for interference from politicians as the bureaucracy, particularly the elite Civil Service of Pakistan (CSP), maintained control over the selection, training and posting of its members and was therefore able to retain its institutional autonomy.9 The student demonstrations and political unrest that led to the collapse of General Ayub Khan’s regime in 1969, followed by the bloody civil war that resulted in the creation of Bangladesh in 1971, seriously undermined the political strength and legitimacy of both the civil and military bureaucracies. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto exploited this weakness after coming to power in 1971 and set out to redress the power imbalance between the elected and unelected institutions of the state. As the following quote demonstrates, he was particularly vocal in castigating the civil service and blaming it for many of the country’s ills:

No institution in the country has so lowered the quality of our national life as to what is called Naukarshahi [bureaucratic rule]. It has done so by imposing a caste system on our society. It has created a class of ‘Brahmins’ or mandarins, unrivalled in its snobbery and arrogance, insulated from life of the people and incapable of identifying itself with them.

Civil Services have become the key wheels on which the entire engine of the state has to move. Hence the leaders for these services are drawn through the competitive examination. The officers thus appointed are bestowed with solemn responsibilities and are scheduled to hold the highest offices of the country.

Pakistan today needs young men and women, with qualities of both head and heart. To choose only such balanced individuals is the purpose of the civil services examination.

So if you have intelligence, intellect, team-spirit, leadership qualities, commonsense, originality, communication skills and have a dynamic personality, then Civil Service is waiting for you. Join Civil Service of Pakistan through CSS examination.

Your country needs you.
You, only you can bring a change.

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