An upright civil servant dies

Published November 9, 2011

IN the death of Abdul Karim Lodhi on Tuesday in Karachi, the country has lost a committed and courageous civil servant who kept the traditions of public service alive in most trying circumstances by resisting all pressures.

The variety of his experience was matched by few in the civil service.

He served in all the four provinces and was chief secretary both of Sindh and Punjab — a distinction not shared by many.

He was executive director of the World Bank and also had a stint at Pakistan’s High Commission in London as commercial attaché.

He, however, will be missed and mourned most by the humble workers and orderlies who worked with him. He cared for them more than he did for the privileged few, his peers or superiors. With all his distinctions his glorious hour, he always thought, was as political agent in Balochistan and the North-West Frontier Province (now Khyber Pakhtunkhwa).

He and this writer, both having served in the tribal areas during the 1960s, shared the nostalgia of a lost relationship with the tribes that was marked by mutual respect and full realisation of the limits to the authority of the government and that of the tribes.

That was the age of negotiations and not operations. And that is how it must be once again if bonhomie is to return to the troubled tribal lands.

That is now equally true of the entire country. A wide gulf of mistrust divides the people from the government. If for this unfortunate transformation the public servants are also to be blamed, my late friend Abdul Karim was certainly not one of those at fault.



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