The Civil Service

Pakistan Table of Contents

The bureaucracy, particularly the higher civil service, has been a continuing source of stability and leadership and a counterweight to political upheaval and government instability. This cadre originated in the prepartition Indian Civil Service, whose members were well educated, well trained, and dedicated to a tradition of efficiency and responsibility. In time, the British recruited indigenous people, who were among India's best and brightest, into the Indian Civil Service ranks.

At partition, out of more than 1,100 Indian Civil Service officers, scarcely 100 were Muslims, and eighty-three of them opted to go to Pakistan. Because none of them held a senior rank equivalent to that of a secretary (and administrators were urgently needed to staff senior posts in the new state), this initial group was augmented by quick promotions in the Civil Service of Pakistan (CSP) through ad hoc appointments from other services and through retention, for a time, of some British officers. The CSP prided itself on being the backbone of the nation, the "steel frame" as it was sometimes called, and played a key role in Pakistan's survival in the difficult years following independence. Although Jinnah commended its contribution, he also warned CSP cadres to stay out of politics and to discharge their duties as public servants. After Jinnah's death, however, in the subsequent absence of strong political leadership, members of the CSP assumed an extraordinary role in the country's policy-making process. When the CSP was disbanded in 1973 and the various services were amalgamated into one administrative system, the expertise of its former members was much valued, and they continued to hold critical positions in the country's administrative apparatus through subsequent transitions in government. It is not surprising, then, that a later president of Pakistan, Ghulam Ishaq Khan (1988-93) was once a member of the CSP.

More about the Government of Pakistan.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress