Unemployment is one of the least highlighted problems of Balochistan. According to estimates around 30,000 people graduate from Balochistan every year and hardly 1,000 to 1,500 of them can get full time jobs. Last year, when the government announced 4,400 jobs of lower scale in educations sector, over 100,000 applications were received for them. Likewise, for the 63 positions of Provincial Civil Services (PCS) announced last year over 12,000 applications were received. Therefore, it can be said that unemployment is one of the major issues in Balochistan and it never gets the required attention.
Last week, Balochistan government made the bombshell announcement of carrying out mass recruitments on over 25,000 vacancies in the next three months. This announcement was made after approval from the provincial cabinet two weeks back. This decision came in the backdrop of startling revelation made by Chief Secretary Balochistan, last month, that there are almost 35,000 vacancies in provincial departments of Balochistan.
Government of Balochistan further announced the details of the recruitments that 25,799 vacancies would be filled in all of provincial departments. Jobs from scale 1 to 15 would be filled up through selection committees of the concerned departments except for the technical posts in education and health departments, which will be filled through a testing service. Jobs of scale 16 and higher would be filled through Balochistan Public Service Commission (BPSC).
This news was met with jubilation among the unemployed youth of Balochistan for which government jobs are the main source of employment. Lots of unemployed youth has already started preparing for the forthcoming tests of these recruitments.
Furthermore, these recruitments are vacancies in the government departments and not newly created positions. This means that funds have already been allocated for them in the budget and there will not be any increase in budgetary expenses for recruitment on these positions. In the budget for fiscal year 2016-17, almost Rs. 121 billion were allocated for salaries which makes up 42% of total budget outlay and 57% of non-development expenditure in the budget.
Mass recruitments of over 25,000 can potentially alter the unemployment discourse in the province. It can solve the unemployment problem to a greater extent and at the same time address the grievances of the population of Pakistan. Therefore, this issue needs to be dealt with delicacy and with utmost care. This implies that this process should be transparent and there should not be any favoritism and violation of merit in any way, otherwise it would backfire and further ignite the sense of deprivation among the unemployed youth.
It’s not a rocket science to ensure transparency in job recumbent process, but it’s surely very difficult in a place like Balochistan which has become a den of corruption and bad governance in the last eight years. It’s highly likely that all possible attempts would be made to sell out a sizable share of these vacancies or to hand them out to the favorite people. All such attempts must be prevented by developing a fair mechanism for the recruitment process.
First thing which needs to be done is to take out the departmental selection committees from the process of recruitments of vacancies of scales from 1 to 15. All jobs below 16 scale should be conducted though a credible testing service. If departments are allowed to conduct the recruitment tests then it’s almost impossible to prevent favoritism in the recruitment process. Ministers and Secretaries would distribute the jobs between themselves like they have been doing in the recent past. That’s why the decision made by the provincial cabinet to involve departmental selection committees is against the essence of merit and transparency and must be withdrawn.
Secondly, services of the infamous National Testing Service (NTS) must not be hired in any case. NTS has become controversial beyond limits and many organizations have banned it for conducting their tests. There are a lot of allegations of corruption in testing process in NTS. That’s why it would be imprudent to hire NTS again, which would make these recruitments controversial. There are a lot of other testing services and one of them can be chosen based on third party evaluation.
Thirdly, BPSC also needs to be reformed so that it can select the best man for the job. BPSC was heavily criticized for conducting PCS exams in poor way last year. The interview techniques used in BPSC are outdated and the “Neelam Ghar” type questions asked in interview prevent the selection of talented people for the jobs. Therefore, the incumbent Chairman of BPSC Justice Kohli, who is an honest man otherwise, must bring his house in order and give up “Neelam Ghar” interview system and replace it with modern interview techniques.
Lastly, the provincial cabinet has made its decision and the way government works, it’s least likely that they will be interested in the aforementioned changes. Therefore they need to be pressurized by the civil society, journalists and all the civilized sections of society to ensure transparency in these mass recruitments. This requires an effective and robust campaign where participation is a must from every section of society. People in general, and the government in particular, need to realize that recruitments on these jobs is in best interests of Balochistan at large.