By Syed Saadat
Oct. 30, 2011
“GRANDFATHERS have ways of coming up with statements that seem less and less logical as you grow up. Questions like ‘where do babies come from?’ would get strange answers that proved really low on facts as time passed.
“Now that he is no more in this world I often find myself wishing for some conversation with him so that I can tell him ‘Look grandpa, you need to update your knowledge’.
Another statement by my late grandfather was ‘there are no shortcuts to success.’ Apparently there are, and many of them.”
This is what an angry young man, who happens to be an engineer in a government department, had to say to me the other day. Just to cool him down, I came up with a lot of ‘grandfatherly’ advice for him on the lines that success is not what meets the eye, that it entails much more, that getting to a certain position fast is not success and that true success really has no short cuts.
The young man was not in the mood to accept what I had to say, and retorted: “Let me tell you, sir, that when somebody is doing a laborious job in BPS 17 and getting peanuts and hopes to be promoted and then has to have a boss who has been directly appointed and who has not taken any exam, then these grandfatherly ideas of success are hard to digest.”
That was the end of the argument and it was game, set and match for the angry young man.
The young man’s somewhat heated argument did not irk me as I was privy to the development that caused the outburst — an official notification according to which all contract employees, including officers and daily wagers, who joined the National Highway Authority (NHA) before June 2011 were regularised without having to undergo any tests or interviews. A fly on the wall says that a conscientious, non-political figure in the loop, who was signing the notification, commented that “I am signing the death warrants of the NHA”. Given the political pressures as they exist, he could do little more than to make the comment.
I am not against giving people job security but merit is something that makes or breaks an organisation. If you want those people to benefit who have been serving in an organisation for years and have done well then a criterion for their recruitment can be fixed. They can be given an extra mark in their final recruitment score for each year they have served in the organisation, but just having them on-board without any competitive test or interview and without advertising the position they are meant to occupy is a bit too much.
Even this extra credit is unjustified because most of these employees get appointed in the first place due to some political link or relative associated with the bureaucracy.
Somebody who, sadly, is a common man should not suffer for his lack of connections or poor family background. But that is the way it is in Pakistan — the sudden rise of the prime minister’s daughter as the saviour of women in Pakistan is one example of how bizarre we can get.
Our ruling political parties have a way of maintaining their vote bank at the expense of merit. Many inductions were made in the Intelligence Bureau, PIA, the Sui Southern Gas Company and the Sui Northern Gas Pipelines in yesteryear without following any proper procedure of recruitment and a little later these appointments were regularised at the cost of those who took the long route to success.
Most of the political appointees never take any tests of an academic nature when they are recruited; however, they must have passed with flying colours the comprehensive tests to appease the political linchpins they used to get unlawful appointments.
It does not end here; our parties make sure that a wrong cannot be undone. A mild reminder of this fact is the sacked employees’ reinstatement law, approved by the president last year. It is rather generous in that it orders the reinstatement of thousands of employees (appointed during the PPP dispensation that governed from 1993 to 1996 and sacked by the next PML dispensation) of government and semi-government organisations who were laid off due to political influence in their appointments and perhaps to accommodate others of the new set-up’s choice. Dues running into billions of rupees had also to be paid, putting a financial burden on the organisations.
When KESC tries to lay off thousands of ghost workers who have been appointed for their political affiliations, to keep a vote bank intact every Tom, Dick and Harry (read: leading political figures) jump in to earn some brownie points, disregarding the possible repercussions of their decisions on future foreign investments.
Lastly, I am contemplating applying for Australian immigration. Because I know, once I am a grandfather, I, too, would have to come up with stories like ‘there are no shortcuts to successes. If I stay here I am pretty sure I would be confronted by my grandson or granddaughter; so better pack my bags and leave. The only thing that keeps me from going ahead with the plan is how I would hate the writer’s description at the end of my article to read ‘The writer is a former Pakistani’.
The writer is a civil servant