Wednesday July 06, 2022

Whose job is it anyway?

November 01, 2019

Minister Fawad Chaudhry was right – it is not the government's job to provide jobs to people. Though it is the government's job to provide people with an opportunity for employment. In fact, that is the reason we choose governments in the first place, why we replace them and why we overthrow them.

We spend most of our time in the work we do throughout our life, which is what we call a ‘job’. We start preparing for the work from when we are as little as four years of age in kindergarten. Therefore, our focal point – regardless of everything else – is work, and around this work all other ancillary matters revolve and the degree to which we are able to sink into the pleasures of life depends on the spiritual and pecuniary fulfilment we gain from work. If there is no fulfilment in this sphere of life, there is no salvation in other affairs either.

To whom should we look for jobs when the government is clearly asserting that it has no responsibility whatsoever to provide jobs? The clarification that was most expected from the minister is that people should not look to the government for government jobs, meaning thereby that the people should not look to public-sector jobs as it is not possible to accommodate a multitude of people. This is exactly how he defended his statement via Twitter and the same clarification has been given by other spokespersons of the government. There could not have been a better explanation; however, the minister forgot or perhaps chose not to further say that despite having said what he said they as a strong government will create so much peace in this country that jobs will be created automatically.

The minister also said, while he broke the news that as many as 400 governments were about to be wound up, “It is very imperative to get people to realise that the government cannot provide jobs. If we start looking towards the government for jobs then the framework of our economy will collapse.”

People are already aware that not everyone is fortunate enough to become a government servant. Therefore, Fawad Chaudhry’s exhortation that people should be made aware of this fact is witless. Notwithstanding, everyone does give one shot to this opportunity by applying for multiple government jobs until they run out of age and even if they have another job. In fact, an acquaintance of mine who is a PhD and on a handsome salary in a private university often tells me how grateful he would be if only he could even get a 17-scale job in a government university; happy to demote himself from a PhD to an ordinary lecturer.

To say the least, the statement by the minister was needless, especially given the fact that this government has had attitude problems since the very beginning. Self-praise is no recommendation. Without having shown any landmark in any sphere of governance, the PTI has been boasting all about how they were going to create heaven for us.

Regardless of Fawad Chaudhry's statement, Pakistan is the only country in the world in which the father of almost every child wishes to see his child as a government servant. This wish is not the result of amazingly selfless patriotism but is rather based on a selfish assumption that if a child gets a government job it would be permanent. The assumption that it shall remain permanent is based on the idea of the existence of the state which we psychologically believe is going to last forever and hence the job as such shall also remain forever with all its perks and privileges.

With this goes on a parallel thought that private entities on the other hand are temporary, unpredictable and have less job security. Therefore, the child is brainwashed from the first day to refrain from even wishing to do anything other than government sector jobs. This embedded thought has given rise to a hierarchy of government jobs to which the parents and young ones look to when planning the future.

The first on the list are CSS exams – the mighty, sophisticated and promising career that it offers has entangled the minds of countless graduates who, despite knowing that the chances of climbing the wall are one in a hundred, continue to aspire themselves to somehow clear this one exam and secure themselves for the rest of their lives, psychologically, at least.

Then there is a sub-hierarchy, most of the aspirants want to join the District Management Group or the Foreign Office. Again the reasons are not passion for these faculties but the facilities and power inherent in these departments. Few individuals know exactly what they want to be and keep attempting the exams until they get to their desired department.

The second most wanted job on the list is of becoming an army officer. Again, deep-down the desire is security. Yet again, there are individuals who really want to join the armed forces and would go to all lengths to protect the homeland no matter the cost– and there are some. Therefore, the above two categories – of CSS and army officers – belong to the highest category which is platinum.

In the gold category are medical and engineering education and careers. This category is followed by the lot which is left over from the platinum ones. Needless to mention, like all other professions in Pakistan the genuine aspirants who really want to become doctors and engineers because they would really want to are few. Like all others, their aspirations too are money, prestige, status and job security. In addition, the first preference of doctors and engineers too is to become government servants.

The leftovers either go abroad and some who have good GPA manage to get fairly good jobs in the private sector. The further leftovers are compelled to work with private companies on below average salaries in the kond of stagnant economy that Pakistan has. Those who are not in either categories above are the ones who have not much to look forward to. That is because, despite the perpendicular rise in the population, no parallel upgradation in the economic sphere was planned. The lack of genius in Pakistan is solely due to this very reason that nobody loves their job and has ended up somewhere one way or the other. Some do not end up anywhere.

It would be safe to say that one of the core reasons why everyone looks to the government for government jobs is that collectively all governments, whether dictatorial or otherwise, have failed to bring about a broad spectrum of strong economy. Having spent six years in Britain for my legal education, I rarely came across someone who looked forward to becoming a government servant. The reason for that was that Britain is an open society and has made a system which is inherently fair for all – irrespective of their age, religion and race.

Can the system we have in Pakistan deliver the same? Obviously not, because of the constant struggle for power centres and an indifferent attitude towards the poor and middle classes.

The writer is a barrister practicing law in Peshawar and Islamabad and has graduated from Cardiff University.