If Pakistan’s deteriorating civil service is not urgently repaired, public disillusionment and resentment could be used by the military to justify another spell of authoritarian rule.
Reforming Pakistan’s Civil Service, the latest report from the International Crisis Group, analyses the structure and functioning of Pakistan’s civil bureaucracy. It identifies critical flaws as well as measures to make it more accountable and able to provide essential public services. Military rule has left behind a demoralised and inefficient bureaucracy that was used to ensure regime survival. Low salaries, insecure tenure, obsolete accountability mechanisms and political interference have spawned widespread corruption and impunity. If the flaws of an unreformed bureaucracy are not urgently addressed, the government risks losing public support.
The civil service’s falling standards impact mostly Pakistan‚s poor, widening social and economic divisions between the privileged and underprivileged. With citizens increasingly affected by conflict and militancy, the government‚s ability to ensure law and order, as well as to provide services such as education and health care, will be as vital to containing the spread of radicalism countrywide as the use of force against militant groups.
The future of the current democratic transition will not only depend on political reconciliation between the ruling party and its opposition, and constitutional amendments to restore parliamentary rule. It will also depend on restoring links between the citizens and the state. Read more