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September 2, 2020

Rules, not Constitution, amended to extend provincial job quotas in federal services

National

September 2, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The federal government has amended the rules, not the Constitution, to extend the provincial quotas in federal services. However, the previously fixed quotas of provinces and other regions like Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan have not been changed.

An Establishment Division notification, a copy of which is available with The News, said that in exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (1) of Section 25 of the Civil Servants Act 1973 read with Notification No. S.R.O.120(1)98 dated Feb 27, 1998, the prime minister has directed that the following amendments shall be made in the Civil Servants (Appointment, Promotion & Transfer) Rules, 1973, namely:- In the aforesaid Rules, in rule 14, the words “prescribed by the federal government from time to time” will be replaced by the words “as prescribed below: Merit 7.5%; Punjab (including federal areas of Islamabad) 50%; and Sindh 19%; the share of Sindh will be further sub-allocated in the following ratio: Urban areas namely Karachi, Hyderabad and Sukkur: 40% of 19% or 7.6%; Rural areas i.e. rest of Sindh excluding Karachi, Hyderabad and Sukkur: 60% of 19% or 11.4%; Khyber Pakhtunkhwa [KP] 11.5%; Balochistan 6%; newly merged districts of KP (ex-FATA) 3% (This share shall not be merged into KP and be observed independently for next 10 years in conjunction with ten-year development plan devised to bring the ex-FATA at par with KP socially and economically); Gilgit-Baltistan 1% and Azad Kashmir 2%.

Twice in the past, constitutional amendments were made for continuation of the job quota, which was originally introduced by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in the 1973 Constitution so that backward areas were not left out in the federal jobs.

This time, the constitutional deficiency has been covered through changes in the rules instead of amending the Constitution. The last constitutional extension given to the continuation of the services quota had lapsed in 2013. In the absence of even a working relationship between the government and opposition, the route of changing the rule has been adopted rather than altering the Constitution.

Article 27 of the Constitution, dealing with the services quota, says no citizen otherwise qualified for appointment in the service of Pakistan shall be discriminated against in respect of any such appointment on the ground only of race, religion, caste, sex, residence or place of birth: Provided that, for a period not exceeding forty years from the commencing day [in 1973], posts may be reserved for persons belonging to any class or area to secure their adequate representation in the service of Pakistan: Provided further that, in the interest of the said service, specified posts or services may be reserved for members of either sex if such posts or services entail the performance of duties and functions which cannot be adequately performed by members of the other sex. Provided also that under-representation of any class or area in the service of Pakistan may be redressed in such manner as may be determined by an Act of Parliament.

In December, 2018, the present government assured a parliamentary committee that it would soon move a constitutional amendment to ensure appointment of government officers/officials as per provincial quotas and that it was trying to muster support of all political parties.

Soon after coming to power in 2013, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) had decided to extend the quota system for another 20 years and introduced a bill in Parliament for the purpose. However, it could not become a law during its five-year rule.

When the initial 10-year period expired in 1983 that started in 1973, Gen Ziaul Haq had amended the Constitution and extended the period to another 20 years. This was later provided a constitutional cover through the Eighth Amendment. The 20-year extension expired in 1993 during the first Nawaz Sharif government.

Its federal cabinet decided to extend the job quota. Through the 16th Constitution Amendment in 1999, the last amendment carried out by the second Nawaz government before the October 1999 military coup, the period was extended from 20 to 40 years. It was then stated that it has been felt that since equal opportunity of education and other facilities are not yet available to all citizens of Pakistan, the extension has been given.

Obviously, a two-thirds majority is required to amend the Constitution that the present government doesn’t have. Such a majority may be forthcoming if the government and opposition sit on the negotiating table.

There have been complaints from Balochistan that the quota system has never been implemented as there is currently not a single federal secretary from this province.

It is reported that Balochistan has less federal employees than its 6pc quota. The total number of its employees working in federal autonomous bodies is around 18,000 which accounts for nearly 5pc of the federal jobs. Similarly, some 23,000 employees are working in the federal government, accounting for a share of just over 4pc. Put together, Balochistan has more than 40,000 employees working in the federal government and its bodies instead of nearly 60,000 staff in line with its 6pc quota, showing a significant shortfall.