Money Matters

Governance decay

Money Matters
By Mansoor Ahmad
Mon, 09, 22

Discipline, merit, and inability to violate the rules make an institution strong and it delivers beyond its potential. Unfortunately, we are short of such institutions and those that do come close to these principles, perform outstandingly.

Governance decay

Discipline, merit, and inability to violate the rules make an institution strong and it delivers beyond its potential. Unfortunately, we are short of such institutions and those that do come close to these principles, perform outstandingly.

Economic well-being largely depends upon the performance of state institutions. For instance, we see the Army at the forefront during natural disasters. Why do we miss our police force in calamity hit areas? Both are supposed to be highly disciplined forces, but one is and the other not. The reason is that all appointments in the Army from grassroots to officers’ cadre are done on merit.

The promotions thereafter are subjected to clearing the relevant exams of the post. No ruler or outsider can interfere in the promotions, appointments, or transfers of army personnel. Each officer has to serve in both developed, underdeveloped and hardship regions. The institution can deny promotions for someone even if they desire to be posted in cantonments with top health facilities due to medical reasons in their family.

All posting are made on merit and are not for short periods unless there is breach of discipline. Orders of the officers are to be obeyed in letter and spirit. Refusal to obey orders can result in a court martial and imprisonment accompanied with dismissal.

In case of the police departments in Pakistan, political interference determines where an inspector general or deputy inspector general as well as the station house officer will be posted. The SHOs in particular are posted on the recommendations of the elected representatives as well as workers of the ruling party in a particular area.

Since appointments and postings are determined by those with political muscle, transfers of the officers are also made on the whims of the ruling elite. A station house officer can be transferred on a weekly basis to please some ruling party stalwarts. Officially, the IG and DIG are authorised for transfers and postings, but the transfers are first announced by rulers. Later, the relevant officers are just required to make it official.

Apart from this, half of the police force is deputed on VIP duties. These VIPs may not number more than 1,000. Officers fall one over the other to get listed in the VIP protocols as it also means less harsh duties at times.

Since these officers are posted on the recommendation of the political elite, they have to follow the orders of their sponsors too. Higher officers look the other way, if any of their favoured people on the force are found breaking the line of discipline.

This too breeds a culture of mistrust not only among the peers in the police force, but also among the public.

No wonder the morale of the police force in Pakistan remains low. They act on orders given by outsiders. If they do not do so, they are immediately transferred to the remotest area of the country.

Amidst such happenings, the police officers cannot perform their actual duty of maintaining law and order. They lose their respect in public eyes, which is why the Army or Rangers get called in to control mobs during extreme agitations.

In the same way commissioners, deputy commissioners and assistant commissioners get their postings and transfers on the wishes of the ruling elite. Officially, the relevant secretary or the chief secretaries in the province are authorised to regulate postings and transfers.

In many cases, the rulers announce these transfers at public gatherings and the authorised officers have to rubber stamp the orders. This practice is also in vogue in the postings of federal and provincial secretaries and sometimes is so frequent that the top officer does not even get the time to make himself learn about the workings of the various ministry departments before he is transferred.

Similarly, postings and transfers in power distribution companies from linemen to SDOs and executive engineers is done on the recommendation of the elected representatives. In such circumstances, how can we expect these officials to eradicate power theft?

The practice of postings and transfers with merit or justification is in vogue in all government departments. This method of posting people at whims and transferring them at whims too, or because the said official or worker fails to please has created a huge mess in governance.

Writ of the government is abused and flouted with impunity. The writ of the government is abused because of this. No economy has ever attained sustainable growth in the absence of merit, transparency, and fair play.

In the middle of this culture thrive rent seeking, bribery, speed money, etc. This makes the mess get even messier, while the public keeps suffering from this lack of governance.

The writer is a staff member