The elephant in the room

Publication Year : 2021

Whenever there is a discussion on what is holding Pakistan back, the elephant in the room is bureaucracy. So, what is wrong with bureaucracy, or should I say what wrong has it done to the country? For the answer, we need to dig a bit into its historical evolution. Pakistan’s administrative machinery, in particular its infamous bureaucracy, is profoundly influenced by its colonial legacy. The British had created authoritative and exceedingly centralised bureaucratic institutions to rule the empire.

Although the British built strong governance institutions tailored to their needs – established on the philosophy of extractive institutions – the same institutions hindered the effective functioning of the newly formed state. The new administration was not supposed to rule and extract resources with a heavy hand, instead it needed to strive for inclusiveness and selfless service to people.

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The writer is a research economist at the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE), Islamabad

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