A depoliticized bureaucracy


It has been reported in a section of the print media that with the change of Chairman National Highways Authority (NHA), a process of cleansing higher bureaucracy of Gilani -favorites has started. In this connection, another important change being cited is the posting of an officer of repute, as Chairman Capital Development Authority. (Media has played important role in this change by exposing mismanagement in CDA and NHA). Many high profile changes in the bureaucracy have been reported over weeks, in the media.
Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf has brought in a full-time Establishment Secretary and posted a professional as Information Secretary. After the departure of Mr Gilani, bosses of IB and FIA have also been changed. These two positions (DG FIA and DG IB) are reserved for most senior police officers.
There is no doubt that during the dictatorship of General Pervez Musharraf, the principle of seniority was not observed strictly in the posting of bureaucrats. This practice continued during the tenure of Mr Yusuf Raza Gilani, who posted junior officers on senior positions compromising principles of seniority and merit. Not only Federal Secretariat but also federal government departments, autonomous bodies and semi-autonomous organizations have been packed with favorites at the altar of good governance. Section 10 of the Civil Servants Act is being misused to post compliant junior officers as Joint Secretaries in the Federal Secretariat. Unfortunately, senior bureaucracy has become accomplice in the violation of service laws, rules and traditions. As a reward, they get promotions, expensive plots, civil awards and extensions in service.
As reported in the media, a retired bureaucrat in his 70s is holding the pivotal position in the Benazir Income Support Program (BISP), with billions of rupees at their disposal and no accountability. Since there is no oversight mechanism in place, politicians and senior bureaucrats are playing havoc with time-honored principles of merit, seniority, integrity and good governance. Their attitude is contributing to mismanagement of resources, corruption and inefficiency in the administration at all levels. Resultantly, people are suffering hard and dying of hunger and disease. Floods and rains are also taking their toll due to bureaucratic apathy.
Undoubtedly, the media is highlighting misdeeds of unscrupulous and corrupt elements in the government; the higher judiciary is also active within constitutional limits to uphold the rule of law in the country. But the politicians are adept in circumventing such moves.
Mr Waseem Ahmed, who was removed last year reluctantly from the position of DG FIA on orders of the Supreme Court, has come back as Home Secretary Sindh, as reported in the press. This is only one example of defiance of orders of the higher judiciary. The Supreme Court cannot keep track in all such cases, but a vigilant media can. Service associations, welfare associations of retired civil servants and think tanks can also play crucial role in guiding the government to good governance and rule of law.
Let us approach general elections with a clean and depoliticized bureaucracy.