LAHORE: The provincial civil service representatives have rejected outright the proposed civil service reforms, claiming that facts have been distorted, leading to compromised provincial autonomy, good governance and service delivery.

Demanding provincial civil service reforms in line with the Constitution, the provincial service officers say the Pakistan Administrative Service (PAS) officers were even compromising the authority of the chief ministers as well as speakers of all four provincial assemblies. They demanded the chief secretaries be selected from the provincial service officers.

The All-Pakistan PMS/PCS/PSS Association convention at a local hotel on Sunday unanimously adopted a joint declaration demanding that civil service be reformed according to the Constitution through a debate and consultation process as was the case with judiciary, legislature and political executive.

The civil service reforms spearheaded by Dr Ishrat Husain did not include provincial management service officers’ points of view and upheld the centralisation of the civil service in contradiction to the Constitution.

Demand changes according to Constitution

The officers demanded in the declaration that only provincial civil service officers be posted against all administrative posts in the provinces and those federal services officers posted in provinces be called back to the centre. They stressed the provincial officers be imparted quality training for capacity building.

They appealed to the prime minister and all chief ministers to give them some time to thrash out the issues pertaining to civil services for the sake of good governance, service delivery and provincial autonomy.

Punjab Management Service Association (PMSA) President Tariq Mahmood said the existing civil service structure had weakened the chief minister of the province as he could not hold accountable any federal service officer -- even an assistant commissioner (posted in the province) -- for any wrongdoing. “What can be a more administrative contradiction?” he asked.

“No good governance, service delivery, provincial autonomy and province-centre relations can be strengthened until the chief secretaries continue to be posted by the federal government,” he said.

Alleging that the reforms committee led by Dr Ishrat Husain distorted facts, Mr Mahmood urged Prime Minister Imran Khan to get the proposed civil service reforms investigated. “The provincial civil service officers will also challenge the proposed reforms in courts of law,” he asserted.

He said some 3,800 provincial civil service officers across the country were getting de-motivated that would ultimately result in low performance and service delivery. “De-motivation of an officer is his biggest protest,” he remarked.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial service association president Abdul Ghafoor Beg said provincial services were the backbone of an administrative structure in a province and no reform could work without taking the officers on board. He said the PAS officers had historically failed to control law and order and corruption in the country despite ruling for 70 years.

He further said the chief ministers and speakers of provincial assemblies should make provincial service effective, and cited the example of Sindh government, which fought the federal government for two months to get its inspector general of police transferred.

“The federal service officers’ domination must end,” he asserted. He urged his civil services fraternity to get united and launch a robust and effective movement to get back their usurped rights.

Balochistan civil services representative Taqi Ramzan stressed the provincial services officers should not mince words while presenting their points of view for a collective cause. “This is an emergency-like situation and demands emergency actions to get heard,” he stressed.

He said the PAS officers had grabbed much more than their allocated posts in Balochistan, adding that they were being found involved in corruption -- referring to the case of chief of the Quetta Safe City project as well as another of recovery of stolen vehicles from a BPS-20 officer’s residence.

Sindh civil service association representative Dr Azeemur Rehman said no parallel service could be operated in a province alongside its own provincial service.

Representing women officers in Punjab, Iffatun Nisa said only provincial service officers could serve their province passionately, dedicatedly and loyally while ensuring good governance and service delivery. She said the women officers would also act as a strong force in the movement for provincial civil service reforms.

PMSA Vice President Umer Farooq Alvi also spoke on the occasion.

Published in Dawn, March 2nd, 2020

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