In order to deliver relief to the public, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) has to embattle the non-responsive colonial bureaucracy of Pakistan. The Kaptaan cannot afford to lose this battle as it may cost his party the coming elections. In 1971, such a crusade was launched for ‘People’s Power’ by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) under the leadership of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (ZAB). As the most popular leader of that time, ZAB introduced several reforms to serve the masses. His warning to the police in his inaugural speech did not sit well with the force; in retaliation they went on strike in Punjab and KP (NWFP then). The young and dashing Governors (Mustafa Khar, Hayat Sherpao) led from the front. The People’s Guard were asked to control the traffic. As the strike was illegal, a 24-hour notice was served for the strikers to resume duty or face dismissal—they were back within no time. Political forces prevailed. Since then, PPP and the police force have never been on the same page. After toppling the elected government in July 1977, Zia’s Muslim League neutralised the democratic gains of the previous regime. The Chaudhrys of Gujrat and the Sharifs of Gawalmandi created a new anti-people force to derail the democratic order which still remains off track.

ZAB’s ‘People’s Power’ has resulted in five electoral victories for the party despite its anti-establishment approach. Humans do err, but the focus on the welfare of the people was exemplary during that period (1971 to 1977). Bureaucrats could not hide behind files as they were read and instructions given for public relief. It was called the ‘Awami Hukamat’ and it lived up to its name. For identification, National Identity Cards (NIC) were issued which were then used for obtaining passports without the traditional bureaucratic red tape. In search of greener pastures, Pakistanis travelled all over the world. Now it is this expatriate community that sustains the economy with their remittances. Following the SOPs, I applied for my first passport through mail in 1975. After two weeks I received a letter that it was ready to be picked but with a request for personal collection. Being an activist, I wrote back that there was no requirement for the applicant to come in person, as it was a waste of time for a final year engineering student. Prompt came the assurance from the director that the matter would be handled expeditiously and it was over a cup of tea. The responsiveness was outstanding. The behaviour of the civil servants was civil and not evil as it is now.

‘Naya Pakistan’ has to follow the lead of the ‘Awami Pakistan’ of the seventies. Like ZAB, Imran Khan is a popular leader who has the capacity to take on the bureaucracy.

Many overs still have to be bowled, the game is not over yet. His all rounders like Wasim Akram and batsmen like Inzamam Ul-Haq are not delivering. The electables have been a big disappointment. After the death of two important leaders (Comrades Ahsan Rashid, Naeem-ul-Haq) the party continues to suffer. The PM Secretariat itself needs revitalisation. Performance evaluation is more effective than trust alone. Paperwork and documentation continues to be poor. Nepotism in senior appointments is not helping. As he has repeatedly said, he fights till the last ball. Experience of the PTI government in KP can be put to good use. Historically, the people of the province seldom re-elect a government as political awareness is rampant. Due to its good governance and major reforms in the police force, PTI came back with a bigger margin. Unfortunately in Punjab, the largest province of the federation, administrative reforms have not taken place. Perhaps the worst performance of the bureaucracy and police is right here in the city of Kaptaan.

The Chief Minister (CM) Secretariat in Punjab leaves a lot to be desired. Firstly, it is located in a protected zone where the public does not have free access. In the seventies, the CM only resided on Club Road in GOR while the office was located in the Civil Secretariat together with the Chief Secretary and Ministers. The CM secretariat delivered relief to the public. Complaints were expeditiously resolved. Most officers complied with the instructions of the CM but not any more. Senior officers defy orders and get away with their insubordination. The bureaucrats stand by the bureaucrats while the masses are left at their mercy. I have fond memories of the CM secretariat under Comrade Hanif Ramay, who in my opinion, was the best provincial chief executive ever. In 1973, we moved to Shadman Colony. The telephone department was unwilling to transfer the connection. A complaint was lodged with the CM’s cell. Within days, it was acknowledged and within weeks, relief was provided. Executive abuse has to be contained by the people’s representatives in which governments have not succeeded thus far. For democracy to take root, the battle for public relief must be hard fought and won, otherwise hard times lie ahead for the party in power. The people of Pakistan deserve a ‘Civil’ and not ‘Evil’ bureaucracy.

Dr Farid A Malik

The writer is Ex-Chairman Pakistan Science Foundation, email: fmaliks@hotmail.com