Power and patronage by Tribune Editorial

Obviously, this does great harm in a seemingly harmless way.

Many bureaucrats in Sindh are occupying powerful positions by skipping the required procedures, taking advantage of political backing, over the past 30 years. A report in this newspaper reveals how political patronage works wonders for some and results in frustration for the many. Officers are required to take exams for confirmation of their jobs. Many officers never took these exams and went on to make spectacular progress on the basis of favouritism.

Many of these officials were appointed during the tenures of former CMs Syed Abdullah Shah and Jam Sadiq Ali in 1991 and 1995 as assistant commissioners. Some of them were appointed directly under the then CM’s discretionary powers, while others were selected from other departments through the same method. Those taken in from other departments were mostly private secretaries of ministers. They were appointed in the Grade 17 pay scale. Their posts were upgraded and many became Grade-20 and Grade-21 officers without meeting the prerequisites of promotions.

Following a high court order, the provincial government had asked a group of 17 officers to appear in an exam conducted by the Sindh Public Service Commission. On March 13 this year, the relevant department wrote a letter to the SPSC to conduct the require exams for the post of assistant collector. However, only two officers appeared in these exams. Earlier in February, some officers had appeared in the SPSC exam but they failed to pass. Earlier the issue was also brought up before the SHC and the Supreme Court. The courts rejected appointments made through bypassing the required procedures. In 2016, the Sindh government cancelled the appointments of 17 officers on court orders because they were appointed in excess of the CM’s quota.

There is nothing surprising about the whole affair because the privileged groups work for greater power consolidation through patronage. Obviously, this does great harm in a seemingly harmless way.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 23rd, 2020.

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