The IMF has recently highlighted the incompetence of the bureaucracy as the biggest obstacle to doing business in Pakistan. The prime minister has also admitted the failure to bring change as promised due to the faults in the system, suggesting that ministries have been unable to achieve desired results.
The concept of a welfare state protects economic and social wellbeing of its citizens, based upon the principles of equal opportunity, distribution of wealth, and public responsibility. The prime minister has also stressed on establishing a welfare state based on the principles of the State of Madinah. This requires a competent and accountable bureaucracy which can absorb revolutionary changes.
The IMF is not the first to reveal the incompetence of the bureaucracy. It has regrettably known to be ineffective, inefficient and overwhelming corrupt. The bureaucracy is entrusted with taking policy decisions for the masses but lacks the willpower to do any good. The flaws in recruitment, political appointments, lack of training, influenced posting, transfers and superiority complex are some of the main reasons for the declining performance of the bureaucracy.
The PTI had vowed to bring drastic changes in the bureaucracy but has yet to materialise. It had formed a commission and appointed former SBP Governor Ishrat Hussain as advisor on institutional reforms. He proposed vast changes in civil service reforms but his recommendations have yet to see light of the day. It is disappointing that the state machinery has resisted change within itself and senior officers continue to occupy positions of power at public expense.
This is also one of the main reason for the rising corruption in Pakistan as highlighted in a recent report of Transparency International. A visit to a public organization will reveal the laxity and callousness by which bureaucrats operate. There is a huge trust deficit between the civil servants and public which hampers the delivery of service but these elites feel no responsibility to serve the masses.
It is the failure of the PTI government that it has been unable to hold the bureaucracy accountable. The country needs civil servants who don’t appease local influential but the public. The government needs to reinforce institutional and civil reforms to achieve the cherished dream of a welfare state.