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May 9, 2021

Results of latest CSS exam: KP aspirants fare poorly

ISLAMABAD: A close look at the results announced by the Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC) for the Central Superior Service (CSS) exams reveals that of all the provinces and regions, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) performed most poorly this time round.

As usual, the Pakistan Administrative Service (PAS), formerly the District Management Group (DMG), remained the first choice of candidates securing high positions in their provinces or regions.

The result reveals interesting facets about the comparative performance of students from different provinces and also about the overall national standard of education and academic attainment. A total of 18,553 candidates appeared in the 2020 CSS examinations. Only 376 passed the written exam – a mere 1.9pc of the aspirants. They were finally interviewed and only 221 were offered posts in grade 17 in different cadres. This is just 1% of the total 18,553 candidates who tried their luck in getting prestigious jobs in the federal government.

Of the 221 candidates offered assignments in different federal cadres, 64 pc are men and 36pc are women. Out of 34 candidates allocated the much sought after fast-track PAS/DMG, 11 are female. The national level top position holder is also a woman; out of the top 100 positions, 31 were clinched by female candidates.

The Establishment Division had requisitioned 255 candidates from the FPSC. After the deduction of the 10 armed forces nominees, the FPSC was required to recommend 245 candidates. But after the exam, it could select only 221 candidates. Thus, 24 seats were left vacant since suitable entrants were not available.

The Punjab outperformed the other provinces and regions. Out of the top 115 positions, 90 were bagged by Punjab. Two were taken by Balochistan, eight by Sindh rural, three by Sindh urban and one by Azad Kashmir. No candidate from KP or Gilgit-Baltistan/the former tribal areas could get a slot in the top 115 positions.

Overall, the candidates from KP performed poorly. Traditionally, two or three aspirants from this province are among the top 10 or 20 positions. But this time, there is not a single applicant from KP among the top 115.

All the top 50 positions, except for three, went to Punjab. The best performers from Balochistan, Sindh rural, Sindh urban, KP, Gilgit-Baltistan/tribal areas and Azad Kashmir had national merit positions numbers 12, 43, 101, 116, 232, and 49 respectively.

No candidate from Punjab below the national merit position of 25 could get into the PAS. The last qualifying position for PAS for Sindh rural, Sindh urban, Balochistan, Gilgit-Baltistan/tribal areas, Azad Kashmir and KP were 112, 123, 12, 232, 44 and 116 respectively.

An analysis of candidates getting the lowest merit in each province and landing a federal job is also interesting. The last person from Punjab got a job in the information group and had a merit position of 172 at the national level. As opposed to this, the last position getting a job from Balochistan is 380 (income tax), Sindh rural 360 (audit and accounts service), Sindh urban 349 (income tax), KP 357 (information group), Gilgit-Baltistan/tribal areas 350 (information group), and Azad Kashmir 301 (audit and accounts service).

The allocation to different civil service cadres is done on the basis of merit-cum-preference. Every candidate gives a choice in descending order and the higher the merit, the more choices the candidate will have. However, the competition is among candidates belonging to the same regions or provinces, meaning the applicants belonging to Punjab or KP or Gilgit-Baltistan/tribal areas will compete with their fellow challengers from their own regions.

The three defence forces - army, air force and navy – have a quota in the CSS- based civil service cadres. The armed forces get 10 pc induction in the three premier cadres – the PAS, police service and foreign service. Such inductees do not appear in the CSS exam but are nominated by their respective headquarters. They get seniority above all Pakistan toppers of the CSS exam and are all allocated notional marks equal to top candidates of the CSS exam in the respective cadres, namely the PAS, police service and foreign service.

The federal jobs are apportioned as per the constitutionally mandated provincial quota – 50 pc to Punjab (including the Islamabad Capital Territory or ICT), 11.5pc to KP, 6pc to Balochistan, 19pc to Sindh, which is further divided between urban and rural Sindh – which get 7.6pc and 11.4pc respectively. The regional distribution to Gilgit-Baltistan/tribal areas is 4pc, and Azad Kashmir 2pc. A total of 7.5pc of seats are allocated to general merit, that mostly go to candidates from Punjab.

There is also a quota for women (10pc) and minorities (5pc). This is allocated from the seats allotted to every cadre on the provincial and regional level. But the minorities and women’s quota in KP, Balochistan and Gilgit-Baltistan/tribal areas mostly goes unutilised for want of appropriately qualified candidates.

The present salary of a young AC in Punjab is Rs 110,000 per month since the government gives a generous “executive allowance”. In ICT and Sindh, a PAS officer on a first posting is paid approximately 50,000 per month along with a housing facility. In KP, he/she is given around Rs 80,000 per month. A CSS qualified section officer gets Rs50,000 or Rs60,000 per month along with a housing allowance in the federal secretariat.

A young ASP is paid almost double of what his batchmate in PAS gets. The government has also given financial incentive schemes to officers posted to areas like Balochistan and Gilgit-Baltistan.

A senior civil servant told The News that at present, the CSS exam is the only merit-based avenue of professional advancement for young graduates. “The FPSC still has immense integrity and the CSS is the only track through which intelligent hard working students from the middle class, lower middle class and even poor families can achieve high profile professional carriers without any recommendation or extraneous influence.”

However, he also said that the civil service was quite politicised, and at the operational level, federal and provincial lawmakers interfere in official matters and in the postings and transfers of young assistant commissioners (ACs) and assistant superintendents of police (ASPs). For example, he pointed out, in Bhakkar alone, 14 ACs have been transferred in two and half years and 12 secretaries and seven commissioners of Lahore have been shifted in 30 months. “Such a state of affairs discourages bright and talented young graduates from joining the civil service.”