Civil services: a national security threat?

Civil services: a national security threat?

Jahangir Kakar June 10, 2021
The writer is a civil servant based in Quetta

Of the many reasons why civil service, as it is, qualifies to be a national security threat, here are the main three.

Firstly, it has held siege to the entire national resources as being policy chieftains through the instruments of rules and regulations and plans and policies for every sector of the state which may be able to contribute something or anything to national prosperity. Every policy that is framed is merely a brainchild of some stellar generalist civil servant lacking sound professional impeccability requirements with results in marginal benefits to some vested groups disbranching the larger public segment. The sectoral professionals cannot disagree with the civil servant as their captain and are compelled to host the nonsense and even whimsical wills of the Saheb Bahadur in the policies and plans for the large ‘public interest’. Professionals who dare disagree are sacked swiftly to keep up décor and discipline. Thus, jacks of all trades and masters of none drive the state no matter it be a drive in a blind alley or a cul-de-sac. The important thing is that Saheb Bahadur drives.

Secondly, due to status quo compulsions, the public-state animosity is a recurrent feature and has become a tangible reality with the passage of time. Now, it is neither the public that owns the government nor the government that owns the public and the result is everyone for and by himself. This has created an outraging citizenry which so far recently could be silenced through colonial tools of power and repressions but with time, having taken a great tide, this citizenry can no more be effectively silenced by Saheb Bahadur. This has intensified the citizenry in finding state machinery being irresponsive and irresponsible to their needs and demands. This can crack the society and the state together as predicted in the US Global Trends 2040 report. What the entire civil service is doing now is safeguarding this status quo in collusion with the elected junta against a common enemy which is the citizenry of the state. This is when and how the savior becomes the terminator.

Thirdly, since the civil services will never compromise on anything that tends to break off the status quo so it becomes inevitable to disallow any professionalism to grow up as this would both question and challenge their justifiable existence. Any talent that comes from outside the vicious civil services circle is deemed alien and is given a lethal antibiotic doze which is completely efficacious. The system is so well controlled that professionalism in running the state affairs has become a persona non grata and civil services has proved itself as the most immediate reason of excessive brain drain.

Now let’s add salt to the injury.

Whenever attempted to reform our civil service, after every reform effort, strangely it has worsened than improved. It is so because every reform effort has been done in oblivion of the system diagnosis that makes up the sick structure of civil services. Also, all these reforms were directly linked with being responsive to meeting the present day challenges without first deciphering what those challenges were and without any post reform framework of how the reforms could complement those challenges. There has been no science but emotions behind these efforts and emotions alone only end up in scripting great tragedies. The result thus far has been inappropriate recommendations only enhancing the sickness of the colonial legacy. This calls and compels us to suggest reforms in the ‘system’ rather in the ‘processes’.

Nowhere on planet earth is it anymore seen that a brain surgeon is flying an F-16 jet and a jet pilot operating a brain tumor. It is only our civil service which is ‘capable’ of doing both, that is, crashing the plane and killing the patient. Professionals and not generalists will be able to reclaim the lost serenity of the state institutions.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 10h, 2021.

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