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Is Merit-based Recruitment Possible in Pakistan? Part-III

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By Muhammad Zubair

Policy Recommendations: Because of the foregoing considerations, option 3 is the best one that places the work where it belongs. Recruitment cannot be left to the mercy of bureaucrats who are vulnerable to both extraneous pressures and their inner temptations to “domain expansion”[14]. To implement this option, the Federal Public Service Commission and Provincial Public Service Commissions should be strengthened and their capacities built to conduct the whole exercise of recruitment from advertising and holding written tests and interviews to final selection.

Federal & Provincial Public Service Commissions are constitutional bodies according to Article 242 of the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Subsequent legislation to the constitutional provision has also been enacted. The Federal and Provincial ordinances of FPSC and PPSC are enacted for the recruitment of federal and provincial posts. Therefore, FPSC and PPSC are constitutionally empowered to recruit for posts connected with the affairs of the federation and provinces. However, there is a need to strengthen the Federal and Provincial ordinances to ensure merit-based recruitment. Almost all, posts may be recruited by the commissions and it can be achieved by extending the operations of commissions to the level of districts. Extended operations of commissions shall ensure proficient working and also solve the laborious operations of the commissions.  

Why is it essential to recruit on merit? Merit-based recruitment is a sacred responsibility of the state. It is the fundamental right of the youth to have equal and equitable opportunities in the domain of transparent recruitment. Corrupt practices of recruitment shall dis-enchant the youth. It will frustrate their talent and trust. Rule of law and justice are always the cardinal of a just state and society. Last but not the least, there must not be any compromise on merit-based recruitment.

All references quoted in the article are explained below. 

[1] There is no statistical data estimating the percentage of recruitment so made.

[2] Judgment dated 19.01.1993 in Human Rights Case No. 104 of 1992, the Supreme Court of Pakistan. 

[3] It may be noted that according to the service/recruitment rules, bureaucrats are the appointing authorities in most cases. Only in a few cases of top positions, the chief executive (the chief minister in the case of a province and the prime minister in the topic of the federal government) is the appointing authority. Therefore the misuse of this authority can at times prove too tempting to resist. 

[4] Under the Chapter titled “Fundamental Rights” of the Constitution of Pakistan, 1973 equality of citizens and safeguard against discrimination in services have been guaranteed. Article 25 of the Constitution provides that all citizens are equal before the law and are entitled to equal protection of the law while article 27 provides that no citizen otherwise qualified for appointment in the service of Pakistan shall be discriminated against. The recruitment Policy does not allow the appointment of any person in violation of procedural formalities. No relaxation of qualification, experience, physical criteria, etc. is allowed under the rules. 

[5]General Recruitment, Federal Public Service Commission,

[6] General Recruitment, Federal Public Service Commission,

[7] Contract Appointment Policy 2004, Services & General Administration Department, Government of Punjab.

[8] According to the latest ‘National Corruption Perception Survey-2010’ of Transparency International, there is an enormous rise in corruption in Pakistan from Rs 195 billion in 2009 to Rs 223 billion in 2010

[9] No single big party in Pakistan can form the government without the support of coalition partners (generally small parties). Therefore the big parties are but to cater to the demands of small parties to keep intact a coalition government. 

[10]Bidhya Bowornwathana, Administrative reform, and the Politician-Bureaucrat Perspective: Visions, Processes, and Support for the Reform

[11] Policy Process: Political and Institutional Context for Policy Analysis

[12] Federal/Provincial Civil Servants (Appointment & Conditions of Service) Rules, 1974 provide for the transfer or deputation of government employees to autonomous bodies (e.g. the Commissions) and already many officials are working with the autonomous bodies on deputation. Therefore, such a policy would not be a big departure from the previous practice and hence will be easy to implement. 

[13] Many potential candidates do not apply for jobs in the government sector because they do not have any political recommendation without which they think it applying for a job is an exercise in futility. That’s why the government sector has witnessed brain drain over the last two or so decades. 

[14]Bidhya Bowornwathana, Administrative reform, and the Politician-Bureaucrat Perspective: Visions, Processes, and Support for the Reform.

The writer is a civil servant and holds expertise in public management.

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