Each government has the same mindset when it comes to civil service reforms, they are stated as a priority. Why? Because, for one, it’s politically correct; and two, they are the first level with an interface with the public and most importantly elected representatives. Eulogizing their perceived and designated powers to do public good and/or bad, has since been personified by the likes of Qudratullah Shahab, which is demonized to date by the media. All incumbent governments, civil or military, have type-casted the bureaucrats as monsters, and view the DMG/PAS and Police through a similar lens. The current PTI government is not only aware of this, but knows how to control it as well. That’s why establishing a Civil Service Reform task force was amongst its priority decisions. Why are we surprised? PTI’s electoral campaign was based on the slogan that all and sundry, of course except them, are corrupt and most of the bureaucrats besides being corrupt have pledged their allegiance to PML-N. So, where does PTI start? Don’t you the follow news? It has started. The Information Minister issued a statement saying that, “Those who have over the years developed personal affiliations and who consider our policies wrong, should go home”. Hallelujah – that’s the first step to reform and is instantly seen as do-able. How? Easy, let’s focus on all those have served under the previous governments as Officers on Special Duty (OSD). No, we will not? Why? Because then what will we do with those who served in KP, Sindh and Balochistan? Well that is not important, only Punjab is where the trouble is. So, the Prime Minister delivered a clear message himself to the ‘bureaucracy and the police’, which was reiterated by the Information Minister that “those having differences (with our policies), can separate themselves from the government” (Read Punjab here only, please). Surprised? No, one should even be. The people (awaam) do not know that “there is a parliamentary system in the country, the bureaucrats are bound to respect the elected representatives” – said the Information Minister. That’s the second policy statement and a guiding beacon for the bureaucracy. They can forget about the public good and focus on the elected representatives. Isn’t this the best reform measure that instead of serving 200 million people all they have to worry about is focusing on the elected national and provincial representatives. Moreover, on the plus side – the satisfaction of the elected representatives can be monitored easily, hence their accountability as well. Listen, the ambiguity around the patron-client relationship (the mother of all evil), has been defined by being between the elected representatives and the bureaucracy. Accountability and performance monitoring has automatically fallen in place as it is there to keep the (almost) thousand elected representatives happy Now that is out of the way, the government has also clarified the other important misunderstanding of the bureaucracy. Well, our Information Minister also informed all and sundry that “It is not the job of bureaucrats to formulate policies. The bureaucrats who will not work for the implementation of our programme, will go home”. Up till now these bureaucrats have held the key task for the Public Policy formulation, Public Finance management and its implementation. Another, tick on the reform list. Wow, what a relief. I would have been dancing had I still been in service. That’s the first thing a probationer learns at the Civil Services Academy and is repeated in all mandatory trainings till they reach the National Defence University (NDU) or the National Management Course (NMC). The concept of public administration and policy formulation are drilled over and over to the extent of specialized education. Why do they go the whole nine yards? How, to make a bureaucrat never forget that policy formulation is their key job on the basis of which government legislation and send it back for implementation. Now the bureaucracy (DMG/PAS and Police as the rest are not important) can take a sigh of relief as its free from another major responsibility. And guess what, the austerity box gets ticked too. How? Oh, simple we close down all training schools, stop financial allocation for it and on foreign specialized education; imagine the fiscal savings! Now that’s called clarity of reform, well done! The goodness of easy-peesy civil service reform does not end here. From now on bureaucrats don’t have to worry about programme implementation, either. It will be done by engaging technocrats, the private sector and of course some special friends from overseas, aka Pakistanis under the able supervision of the PM. Coming to institutional strengthening, what makes you say something like that? Don’t you know the supreme leader is ever vigilant, and there is no slack or corruption. What? Shahbaz Sharif did the same? How could you even say that blasphemous word! Don’t you know what a mess these Sharif brothers have made of the country. That Shahbaz was such a showbaaz who didn’t want any public institution to flourish. That’s why he was doing everything himself – from being the spokesperson of the government to keeping the key Ministries to himself and of-course supervising everything. That sounds familiar? Oh then, you are also a supporter of PML-N. So, the PTI government can now disband the Civil Service Reform taskforce. Why? Because it has already been on the correct course, what more could you want? Listen, the ambiguity around the patron-client relationship (the mother of all evil), has been defined by being between the elected representatives and the bureaucracy. Accountability and performance monitoring has automatically fallen in place as it is there to keep the (almost) thousand elected representatives happy. One can always have an app to gauge their satisfaction level. Public policy formulation has also been taken out of their realm so no need for training and training institutes, that means huge fiscal savings. And another plus (see I told you PTI is all about the plus) the land becomes available to be auctioned and earns more revenue to pay off our debts. Super cool, isn’t it? Lastly, the National Commission on Governance Reform (NCGR) under Dr. Ishrat Hussain was designed to do the same in the General Musharraf’s era and guess what, it could not deliver even then. So, it’s ideal to eradicate it. Wait, wait – what did you say? The Government has residues from the Musharraf era? And the government did not know? Oh, when will you stop being biased – why am I wasting my time here. Fauzia Yazdani can be reached at email@example.com Published in Daily Times, October 14th 2018.