Main Issues for Setting the Civil Service Reform Agenda in Pakistan

Publication Year : 2006

Civil service reform is not new to the development debate in Pakistan. The role of bureaucracy is discussed every now and then. Civil service reform is nowadays quite uniformly discussed as a major problem for development in Pakistan, or at least so it is considered. Most of the blame for policy and programme failures is assigned to the civil service. Recognising the importance, or persistence of the problem, governments over time have attempted to deal with the issue by setting up committees and commissions, many times in this paper I am presenting a discussion of some pre-eminent issues besetting the civil service in Pakistan in my view unless these issues are addressed at the outset no meaningful reform can be formulated or implemented. Addressing them is paramount for setting an agenda for the reform. Civil service reform due to the complex nature of the problem works at various levels simultaneously. As long as this does not over simplify and aggregate problems it can work well. But for good results disaggregating problems will be required. What is required to be done in one branch might not be needed in the other. Legal instruments with a general and most wide ranging application should deal with basic principles of organisation while providing for differential rules to emerge and give detailed structures. A set of actions to deal with the basic structures will be part of any reform but sometimes what remains ignored is that actions are also needed in other spheres of Pakistan’s public life without which the reform in civil service itself will not attain the cherished goals. The paper takes up discussion of issues from these levels of consideration. It begins with the aggregation framework and goes on to highlight the most urgently felt area of local civil service. It ends by highlighting the complementary actions.