The Right Man


Perhaps, the best thing that now-former special advisor to the prime minister on institutional reforms and austerity, Dr Ishrat Hussain, could have done was resign from his position in the federal cabinet, since he has done precious little about reforms or austerity in the last three years. Therefore, his decision to step down is welcome. Hopefully, it opens the way for a more result-oriented replacement and approach. Since all Mr Hussain could muster were cliches in cabinet meetings, it was better to gracefully bow out.
These days the word in Islamabad is that the PM is in the process of setting quantifiable goals for all ministries, to make it easier to measure their performance in the last leg of the electoral cycle. Almost all ministers and federal secretaries have complained of needless red tape and inefficiency typical of the bureaucracy as the biggest hurdle in meeting their targets.
Reforming the civil service to make it more efficient was one of Dr Hussain’s principal assignments. Unfortunately, nothing at all has been done about it so far. Ergo, the need to get the right man for this job has never been greater. There remains no doubt that the bureaucracy will do whatever it can to throw a monkey wrench in all such efforts. Dr Hussain would have had to deal with his fair share of nonsense, but such challenges are exactly what you aim to overcome when to agree to work for a government. especially in a position that aims to make this country productive again. Sadly, it doesn’t look as if Dr Hussain tried and failed; rather it looks as if he didn’t try hard enough. He has had jolly company as many others like Arbab Shehzad and Raoof Hassan aur just pointlessly spending their days in the hot seat.
After all, the civil service is the machinery that really runs the country. Back in the day, arguments were made in favour of retaining this British concoction because it represented the “iron frame of empire” from once upon a time. It attracted the country’s best minds who turned it into the very model of efficiency. Yet, it has been rotting for decades and instead symbolises all that is wrong with Pakistan – corruption, inefficiency, mismanagement, opportunism, etc. Those with slightly longer memories will remember that PM Imran Khan had made some very bold claims about cleansing and overhauling the bureaucracy before he came to power. But since the election, all that has been done about this matter is to leave it in the hands of an individual who didn’t, from the looks of it, have the appetite for such a demanding assignment. Now. the process must start all over again. Only this time, there’s a lot less time left, so the sooner the captain gets off the mark, the better for everyone.