Democracy is a gift. One that continues to benefit humans in their everyday experiences. Democracy was secured after a thorough, continuous tug of war between autocrats and commoners, stretched along decades. This gift seems to have eluded Balochistan for a long time now. In fact, the evolution of governance structures from different forms of autocratic governments to the present day democracy is a gift of the time. As Hegel notes: “World history is unfolding of spirit in time, as nature is the unfolding of idea in space.” Therefore, democracy has no alternative in the world today and is popular so much so that even the autocratic and tyrannical regimes also identify themselves as democratic to avoid the wrath of the global citizenry. In this context, there are global dictators who inflict the worst atrocities over individuals, groups and nations with the pretext of protecting municipal and global democratic norms. All forms of state coercion and global violation of human rights made shamefully in the name of democracy are cases in point to validate the previous statement. Democracy for the hapless people of Pakistan has also been an elusive phenomenon since the inception of this country. Pakistan’s experience with democracy remains to be a duel for power among various individuals, groups and institutions within the country.But the unfolding events since 2002 and onwards have shown that the democracy, in whatever form, is taking roots despite formidable challenges from different lobbies that have enjoyed unchecked power for decades in the polity. Interestingly, the real beauty of a democratic system is that it gives common citizens the power to question every action of a government and even unseat a government if it transcends the mandate given to it by the people. Therefore, groups interlocked in a power play fight battles on media more often than not to shape the public opinion in the desired way. Whatever the political culture and political dynamics in Pakistan may be, it is for sure that the collective decision of the public will expresses its influence in the formation of national and provincial governments in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan despite all the loopholes in electioneering process. The will of the ‘deep state’ is expressed through puppet chieftains who have no popular roots in the masses, and, in turn, the lust and greed of these unpopular leaders promote a political culture of corruption, nepotism, favouritism and cronyism Delving even deeper in the political culture of Pakistan, one gets the fine idea that each province of the Federation of Pakistan has a different political culture, and in this backdrop of diversity, when it comes to Balochistan, the keys of the political harmonium produce altogether different notes in the political atmosphere of the province. Mostly, the will of the ‘deep state’ is expressed through puppet chieftains who have no popular roots in the masses and, in turn, the lust and greed of these unpopular leaders promote a political culture of corruption, nepotism, favouritism and cronyism to consolidate their tribal grip over the poor masses. Although this pseudo-political lot disappears either with the completion of the tenure or at the displeasure of their masters, they leave behind a bitter culture of corruption within the governmental machinery to hamper the process of already irresponsive and gravely slow development process. The current emergence of a political party overnight in Balochistan is a manifestation of such a practice to put in saddle an obedient but unpopular lot. Whatever political dynamics and their interplay may be at the top, for an effective change to take place in this province or anywhere else in the country, it is essential for the apparatus of public administration to be efficient, open, responsive, accessible and accountable to the masses. On the contrary, the administrative apparatus in the province is irresponsive, hardly accessible, inefficient, and mostly corrupt — leaving aside the exceptions of upright and honest individuals. As the saying goes, “let people fight for the forms of government, what is administered best, is the best.” With the view of administering the best, Balochistan needs leadership that dares to challenge the mafias within the administrative set-up of the province and dares to change the entire system once for all. For this to happen, the next government, once in power, should first of all direct its concentration over the employees’ unions who have a very negative impact over the development process in the province in many ways. To elaborate, they have promotion quota, which is faulty to the core based on an Annual Confidential Report (ACR), which is neither confidential nor any factual report about the employees. This ACR and promotion-quota culture have risen many deadwood in the top slots such as secretary, additional, deputy secretary and section officer who contribute in deadening the day to day business rather than facilitating and speeding it up. And the lot makes most of the employees in the administrative set-up in Balochistan owing to the influence of employees’ unions who have clinched a 50 per cent or, in some cases, 75 per cent promotion quota on vacant positions in different departments. The world has moved from ACRs to APRs — annual performance report — where the eligibility of an employee is evaluated over his annual performance, the deadlines and tasks met by him throughout the year. The ACR and timescale promotion system frustrates talented and capable youth who have far better skills than the little-educated officers who have acquired promotion through the faulty system and continue to be the bosses of the highly qualified talent to their utter frustration and the disappointment of entire province. Moreover, the administrative machinery in Balochistan is mostly computer illiterate and averse to technology and this reluctance towards the use of modern technological gadgets for correspondence, saving data and coordination makes all efforts of transforming the manual administration to e-administration an embarrassing failure. The world is moving fast from manual administration to e-administration and paper-free environments,but the administration in Balochistan still maintains large registers, heaps of files and papers. There is no denying the fact that the bureaucratic set-up of Pakistan is older than the country itself and its approaches, training and behaviour still reflect a colonial outlook, which then promoted the idea of the ruling. On the very contrary, the modern democratic governments have transformed their administrative behaviour from ruling approach to management and good governance approaches. Deputy commissioners and assistant commissioners still behave in a colonial way in the district,and they have either little or no roots in the masses. The taste of ruling is so maddening in this province that even many medical students in their final year left their studies and chipped themselves in the provincial bureaucracy or even opted for Tehsildar (revenue officer in tehsil) in as low as grade 16 by only qualifying a general knowledge and English essay and composition paper through Balochistan Public Service Commission (BPSC) in 2016. Many issues that Balochistan is facing will automatically be addressed if it is provided with an efficient and responsive administrative set-up working on modern lines. With aforesaid bold steps in administrative set-up, the upcoming leadership should then work on police and levies force reforms to modernise both the forces to usher an era of development, meritocracy, peace and security. The writer is former Balochistan Correspondent for Daily Times Pakistan. Email: Shahwani786@gmail.com Published in Daily Times, June 26th 2018.