WEB DESK: Up to end 1950s, the three pillars of State – Executive, Legislative and Judiciary – worked exceptionally well and delivered to the nation.
As a result, the new-born state prospered well. It was in 1950s that organisations like Pakistan International Air Lines (PIA), Pakistan Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC), Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) and many other entities were established with a vision to position Pakistan on the track of industrial and economic growth, energy self-sufficiency, travel facilities to open itself to the outside world. It was also during this decade that gas was discovered in Sui, Balochistan.
The institution of the Executive largely driven by officers from the Indian Civil Service (ICS) cadre, being well-experienced and groomed, conducted themselves well with integrity, devotion and a vision to build up the nation. On the basis of their strengths they successfully resisted political pressures.
This twilight period of Pakistan’s history witnessed trains operating by the clock, airlines flying on schedule, pick-up in industrial growth, power network being laid out all over the country, oil and gas drilling operations put in place. For a country which inherited an industrial base limited to two cement plants and a few ginning and flour mills and a depleted power structure, much was achieved in the first decade of nation-building.
The 10-year rule of General Ayub Khan made full use of these early gains, in building Pakistan as an economic power ahead of all in Asia. The period beyond 1958 witnessed the gradual slide of the sanctity of the institutions of Pakistan although many stalwarts did their bit in slowing the process.
The military rule and the civilian rule, in the last six decades inflicted repeated dents on the institutions of Pakistan with their actions driven by vested interests, cronyism, nepotism, corruption and greed. Over the years, loyalty to leadership prevailed over merit. The once upright and dynamic cadre of bureaucrats, who are the backbone of the institution of executive, by and large, surrendered their independence bestowed on them under the constitution of Pakistan in favour of subservience to political leadership. Same was the case with regulators who, according to the constitution, are required to play an effective and independent role. There are of course some exceptions on the strength of which the state is still afloat.
This nearly 70-year-old nation has reached a stage where its institutions are weakened to the extent demanding immediate remedies failing which their collapse is inevitable. A stable democracy is all about stable institutions. When institutions weaken and collapse, so does the democracy as chaos motivates and justifies intervention by a stronger power internally or externally or both.
Restoring the institutions to a fair level of acceptance is a herculean task and only a willing and strong political leadership can venture to undertake it. But, the start of the process now appears inevitable as there are signs that the political leadership finds itself lost and unable to lead and govern the state.
They move from one crisis to another suffering much in the process. The beginning for the restoration of institutions has to be made. The logical start must begin from the ‘institution of executive’ which is the prime mover of the country.
Pakistan is reported to have around 45 ministries governed by around a total 40 federal ministers and minister of state and a team of special assistants and advisors to the Prime Minister – all being political appointees. The executive structure, which is a legacy of the British empire, in each ministry, comprises a team of a Federal Secretary, a number of Additional Secretaries, Joint Secretaries, Deputy Secretaries, Section Officers and a support staff of Personal Assistants, Personal Secretary, Protocol Officers and clerks and not to mention motorcades of security personnel for the privileged ones and the ones who can manage it otherwise.
Federal ministries are reported to be Ministry of Commerce, Foreign Affairs, Communication, Culture, Defence, Defence Production, Economic Affairs and Statistic, Education, Health, Social Welfare and Special Education, Special Initiatives, Sports, Women Development, Youth Affairs, Climate Change, Finance and Revenue, Food Security and Research, Housing and Works, Human Rights, Industries and Production, Textile Industry, Tourism, Information and Broadcasting, Information Technology, Inter-Provincial Co-ordination, Interior, Investment, Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, States and Frontier Region, Labour and Manpower, Law and Justice, Local Governments and Rural Development, Minorities, Narcotics Control, Overseas Pakistanis, Parliamentary Affairs, Petroleum and Natural Resources, Water and Power, Planning and Development, Population Welfare, Ports and Shipping, Postal Service, Privatisation, Railways, Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony, Zakat and Ushr.
Under each ministry are a number of autonomous organisations. Notably, under Ministry of Science and Technology operates over 40 research centres, laboratories and institutes of advance learning. Over 10 institutions engaged as regulators, research, learning and IT support under Ministry of Information and Telecommunication. Under Ministry of Food Security and Research over 13 institutions engaged in development and advisory services and research works. The same is the case with other ministries.
All these institutions have a heavy head count of Chief Executive Officers, Executives, PhD Professors and Research Scientists and are reported to be in possession of great land assets and infrastructure.
In addition to all of this, there are over 50 large federal departments, autonomous and independent institutions like Alternate Energy Board Department, Auditor General of Pakistan, Election Commission of Pakistan, NAB, Nepra, Ogra, FBR, Wapda, NHA, Customs, TDAP and others.
This is indeed a top heavy and much superfluous structure with functions of ministries and their subsidiaries overlapping and much of it being redundant. They are ungovernable; the cost to sustain them is enormous and is not consistent with the return to the nation. There is a need to carry out due diligence and rationalisation of all ministries and the auxiliary bodies. The country needs to have lean and governable organisations. The writer will add on the subject, ministry-wise, in his subsequent weekly columns.
(The writer is former President, Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OICCI).)
Source: Business Recorder