Civil servants, including department heads, are constantly shuffled with every new government. A new group of faces, some of which have never been seen before, mingle with an evergreen band that seeks out prominent positions. Having been loyal in some difficult days and being dexterous counts.

We have developed an assortment of USA spoil system interweaved with Westminster model for managing state affairs, augmented by our indigenous recipe for governing the state. Nonetheless, the erosion of values has unsettled the essence and composition of an institution. The tunnel may be dark, but it is not without hope for those with vision.

As a country’s primary pillars, the Executive, Legislative, and Judiciary, and now the media, play a critical role in its existence and prosperity, so they must not be undermined. As the institutions develop, they become the key to a country’s stability and growth, learning from the nascent challenges they face. ‘The institutions of the country belong to the people who reside in it’. In other words, the institution processes should be representations of the people under the constitution, empowered through due process.

This has unfortunately not been the case here, as institutions have been rampantly altered according to the preferences of ‘individuals’, with men of straw reaching the top. Years passed before there was an undisputed constitution. Anyone who managed to rein in power played the game according to their convenience and got away with it.

There are some who argue that we had good times. The argument is a fallacy, a self-denial, since what looked good ended up dismembering the country. While we made progress, the desired optimum was never reached, placing us low in the comity of nations and creating a poor image even among the native population.

There is no doubt that history unfolded, as a Muslim minority that once ruled the region carved a country in their majority area, seeking no less than utopia at hand. The pillars, however, were soon challenged by homemade idiocy, cold-war conflict, and neighborly hostility. There appears to be an unending series of tremors crashing the structure, but the need for some overhaul remains largely ignored.

However, only if wishes were horses, our beloved homeland would have become a Utopian state. Sadly, the state-pillars had many regrets and few joys in checkered history. Short-term gains, nepotism, safeguarding some groups interest and expediency have tarnished their reputations. In all domains, the downside is elite capture. Institutions and systems are less powerful than influential individuals who harness the process in accordance with their own profits and control rather than the other way around. It has wrecked and destabiliseqd the essential characteristics of governance: equity and inclusiveness, accountability, transparency, and impartiality.

There are no complex grievances, but if they go unresolved, they have serious consequences. People want fairness, an effective criminal justice system, access to basic health care and education facilities, and development programs to help them fulfill their potential. To rise out of being ranked 130 out of 139 countries globally, the Executive, or the working government, must do good governance and uphold the rule of law.

To improve from a ranking of 140 out of 180 countries in corruption perception index, the legislature needs to make pragmatic laws that benefit the common person and avoid public acrimonies. For the judiciary to move up in the standing (presently ranked 124/139 in Civil Justice-108/139 in Criminal Justice globally) it must deal with cases promptly and impartially. Press freedom currently ranks 157 out of 180 countries and needs to improve. Media be encouraged to be whistleblowers, name and shame people but avoid becoming activists.

While climbing the ladder in the career, I became more vulnerable. Many of my friends abandoned me because of my advocacy for rule of law over glorification of the self. Most of the time, it was group think that prevailed, not reason. As a means of overcoming the eroding status of institutions, I adopted the modes that were successful under the circumstances.

If an order seems to be illegal or irregular, leaders should stand in saying “No” and, if insisted, ask that such an order be in writing. A memo citing the wrongdoings and consequences must be sent to all involved if orders and illegal actions are still being carried out. Several times, this saved me from trouble and brought relief to the government.

The virtuous should not be undermined by the malice of the wicked. It is disservice to allegiance when one is a silent spectator, walks away when wrong is being done, and does not put up enough resistance. To this day, Shakil Durrani the then Chief Secretary, Sindh is hailed as one of the few sane voices protesting the May 12 mayhem, while others fled to live, sure not to fight even next time. It is important for stakeholders to remember they are representatives of the public and accountable to law, not to an individual or group.

Secondly leaders from all tiers should create an atmosphere of enthusiasm and reminisce about the vision of the organisation. An effective teamwork that synergises desired policies, is parity-based and deep, and is long lasting and durable. For a successful and robust change to occur, it must be gradual. When asked what he does sanitary worker at NASA’ said, ‘he sends out men to the moon,’ preferring business dreams over his job description.

It takes an engaged official to strengthen the administration’s structure, as well as to augment it to counteract anti-organisational designs. Leaders, managers, and employees who fail to communicate effectively perpetuate unethical behavior and allow for immoral actions to flourish.

As the end users are the most affected by the bad policies and actions, motivating them to step in for whistleblowing and naming-shaming is the third recommendation. It is only through successful partnerships between community and practitioner that a common man can gain ultimate benefits. As a result of civil society’s contributions, Sindh police got operational autonomy to curb undue interference. Additionally, the judiciary, realising the need for police reforms, has accepted the report prepared by the Police Reforms Committee.

The Pakistani public does not need another political campaign centered around denial and avoidance of some of the country’s real problems. The foundation of government institutions is the economy. To be a strong government, you shouldn’t just have military power or an effective intelligence apparatus, but also have an effective, fair administration, and good governance. Our country, its institutions, and political system need reforms and rejuvenation.

Institutions are made by people. ‘Although men matter, nothing lasts without institutions. There is no one stopping us other than ourselves.