Pakistani Bureaucracy Crises of Governance & Prospects of Reform

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The Pakistan Development Review
38 : 4 Part II (Winter 1999) pp. 995–1017

Pakistani Bureaucracy: Crisis of Governance
and Prospects of Reform
SAEED SHAFQAT
This paper is divided into three parts. The first part provides an overview of literature on how the role and assessment of bureaucracy in the Third World in general and Pakistan in particular has undergone change. The second part examines the changing socioeconomic profile and corresponding attitudinal changes if any, in Pakistan’s bureaucracy. The third part provides guidelines for possible reform in Pakistan’s federal bureaucracy.

ASSESSING BUREAUCRACY: A REVIEW
OF LITERATURE
For almost two decades (i.e. 1950–1970) the academic community presented bureaucracy in the developing countries as engine of growth, development and an agent of change [Lapalambora (1963) and Apter (1967)]. Bureaucracy in Pakistan provided a lead and received laudatory comments for its role in initiating economic development and promoting political stability [Huntington (1968); Von Vorys (1965) and Braibanti (1966)]. Bureaucratic elites and public institutions were expected to provide leadership, order and stability. Again Pakistani bureaucracy stood the test and fulfilled these expectations [Huntington (1968)]. By the late 1960s that witnessed movements of popular protest and agitation against the authoritarian and repressive role of the government, the opposition political parties, and a segment of the print media started portraying the bureaucracy as an instrument of oppression. This portrayal had an impact on public consciousness. Bureaucrats were seen as being inimical to their interests. By the mid-1970s the academic community and the World Bank (both in their own wisdom and direction) began to reassess and reevaluate the role of bureaucracy [Donell (1973) and Laporte (1975)]. In the early 1980s the World Bank studies began casting aspersions on bureaucracy’s ability to promote order and development in the Third World. Corruption, inefficiency, bloated size, absence of accountability, and resistance to change were portrayed as the manifestations of bureaucracy [World Bank Report (1983–1993)]. The academic community raised concerns about authoritarian values and corrupt practices that Saeed Shafqat is Chief Instructor at Civil Services Academy, Walton, Lahore.

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Saeed Shafqat

bureaucracies promoted in the developing countries—i.e. violation of human rights and suppression of liberties. The academic community recognised and conceded some positive contribution of bureaucracy in the direction of growth and development [Burki and Laporte (1986)]. In short negative images of bureaucracy and a cry for reform dominated the policy and academic research environment. In 1991, three papers presented by Boeninger, Mills and Serageldin at the World Bank Conference on Development Economics brought the issue of governance to the core of the debate on institutional reform [Boeninger, LandellMills and Serageldin (1991)]. The World Bank economists conceded and recognised that governance was no longer a matter of economic development alone. There were cultural, political and institutional factors that influenced the process of governance. These studies drew attention towards the fact that good governance was a function of political will and commitment of the leadership, which in turn was affected by cultural, historical/institutional settings of a country. That external environment i.e. conditions of aid, pressures of donor agencies and international institutions also influenced styles and modes of governance. In short, public policy debate underwent a paradigm shift in which institutional reform i.e. reform of the bureaucracy, judiciary, legislatures became the cry of this decade. Thus, the World Bank, IMF and UNDP, provided the lead in initiating a dialogue on reform strategy for the bureaucracies in the Third World. Given this context, how should one assess the role of bureaucracy?...
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