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September 3, 2018

Bureaucracy’s Rotation Policy: First test of IK’s resolve to uphold merit

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September 3, 2018

ISLAMABAD: After a long break of many years, the Imran Khan government has dared to start rotating, between provinces and Centre, bureaucrats belonging to the most influential cadre -- the Pakistan Administrative Service (PAS) -- with fingers crossed if he could implement his decision.

For the last almost three decades, successive governments have been formulating their respective rotation policy, also known as inter-provincial transfer policy, for the PAS (ex-DMG) and PSP (Police Service of Pakistan) but none including even General (retd) Musharraf could implement it during his martial law.

Every time, in the past, the implementation of the policy within the first few weeks of its launch was frustrated because of the exceptions one after the other allowed by governments owing to pressures from influential bureaucrats who were reluctant to move out from the province of their choice.

According to a senior bureaucrat, with the launch of the rotation policy, Imran Khan government has actually put itself in a test.

The coming few weeks and months, he said, will determine if Khan is any different from the previous rulers or will succumb to the pressure of bureaucracy and their powerful links.

In the first phase, the Establishment Division on Friday notified the transfer of almost 30 senior grade 20 & 21 PAS officers, and rotated them between the provinces and the Centre. Sources said the Establishment Division got a free handfrom the prime minister to devise the rotation policy for services common to the Federation and the provinces.

Initially, in the first few phases, all grade 20 and 21 officers of PAS, who were stationed in a province for more than 10 years, will be rotated. Later, the focus will be on the rotation of grade 18 and 19 officers.

The ED, it is said, is also working on the PSP, whose officers will also be rotated between the provinces and Centre in order to improve the working of all the provinces besides adding to the experience and skills of the government servants.

“This policy in particular will help the smaller provinces to benefit from the skills of officers over concentrated in Punjab,” an official source said, adding, “It will also allow officers from the smaller provinces to get exposure of working in Punjab and at the Centre.”

The inter-provincial transfer policy, which remained dormant for the last few decades, is also considered critically important for national cohesion as officers from one province are made to serve the other provinces which ultimately help formulate national policies reflecting the needs and aspirations of people from all regions and provinces.

During the last 10 years, neither the PPP nor the PML-N government even made any serious effort to rotate the government servants between the provinces and the Centre.

Rotation policies were, however, made by the Musharraf government and his predecessors -- Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto governments during 90s -- but none of them could implement their own policy because powerful bureaucrats started getting exceptions for one excuse or the other.

Interestingly, every government even in the past has been showing the resolve that the policy would be implemented in letter and spirit but it was never done. Consequently, the policy was shelved.

The PAS and PSP are included in all Pakistan services and their cadre posts are shared by the provinces and the Centre. However, in most of the cases the officers belonging to these services prefer serving their own provinces and regions and avoid going to other provinces. Such trends are strongly followed particularly among the bureaucrats in Punjab.

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