The gentlemen at work

Publication Year : 2021

In the 1950s, Pakistan experienced poor growth and rapid political turnover. In the 1960s, the country became a model of growth in the eyes of the donors. Gustav Papanek, then the head of the Harvard Advisory Group, wrote a book, Pakistan’s Development in 1967) to explain the process and the factors leading to this growth story. In his view, it was a successful blend of private initiative and government intervention in the economy. In a chapter “Gentlemen at Work”, he brings out the role played by the bureaucracy in the self-styled Decade of Development. We summarize this chapter for readers to put the need for civil service reform in perspective. It is difficult to examine government economic policies and their effectiveness without some understanding of Pakistan’s civil service. The government of Pakistan was dominated by the civil service. Until 1958, the political leadership changed, civil servants participated frequently in the cabinet. After 1958 the civil service and the military were dominant even at the political level of government. Usually power, prestige, and competence lay with the civil service, not with the political leadership. The Pakistan civil service was shaped in the pre-Independence period. Its most prominent component was and is a very small group of general administrators who held practically all senior positions- an elite in the true sense of the world. In the late 1950’s some 400 of them administrated a country of 100 million. Those elites were selected on the basis of a competitive examination in their early twenties. The candidates must be well adjusted, intelligent, all around and participate in the sports and respond quickly on a wide range of subjects were more important than a deep knowledge of a few fields.