Need for Change of Attitude of Bureaucrats

Faiez Hassan Seyal | October 1991



Attitude is the by-product of a long usage. It is, indeed studded with customary coloring. With the passage of time, it has included a sort of sanctity. Thus, attitude, individual or national, possesses a psychological phenomenon. The nomenclature “bureaucracy” presents before a common mind a group of people with high and stiff collar, occupying chair on a very high pedestal sitting in a lordly posture, almost unapproachable.

As we all are aware that in cities and towns, there is a place known as ‘The Civil Lines’. Let us call it as GOR I, II or III, as the case may be. Compare the civil lines atmosphere with other parts of the town or let us compare GOR I with Bhatti Gate or the Interior of Lahore, then we can visualize the true picture of a bureaucrat and a man in the street. All facilities all amenities flood one area. The other side remain a masterpiece of deprivation, disease and death. Bureaucrat has emerged as a demigod who is the ruler, director or the Government representative of God on earth. People may grumble against his authority but to challenge him is a difficult task. This has been, is and shall remain the power structure. It has been more assertive, gaining steadily at the expense of the political elite. The solution to this problem is neither easy nor simple. The answer to this “How to Change”? is quite sophisticated, intricate and complex. Even a simple, cursory answer presents varied facets.

The Meanings

Before we talk about the Psychological Phenomenon of ATTITUDE and any probable change, it would be proper to comprehend exactly the connotation “Bureaucracy” and the “Bureaucrat”. Bureau is a common word denoting a section, an association or a particular government department. “Cracy” is a stable appendage signifying a method, a system or a scientific way of running a government. We have got Democracy, Mullacracy, Technocracy, Plutocracy and Bureaucracy, etc. Our concern here is with the last one. For us Pakistani’s a bureaucrat is almost a home word. We know them. We recognize them. People and bureaucracy are intermingled and interdependent. It can be defined as Bureaucracy is a Professional Corps of Officials organized in a pyramidal tribe, functioning under impersonal uniform rules and procedures. In combination they become responsible for running the governments (Federal or Provincial) to the best of their capacities and abilities.

In the last decades of the 19th century when people got their right of franchise, then bureaucracy originated in Europe, under the directions of Frederick the Great and Prince Bismark. The famous Sociologist Max Weber (1867-1920) evolved this system and his definitions and theories became the source of this system.

Max Weber’s main thesis were:

1)         As the world is advancing in technology science, civilization and population, Government cannot be run single-handedly. There must be a proper division of Labour. Responsibilities must be scattered.

2)         It must work tier by tier. The shape of the government must be a typical hierarchy. The job analysis and functioning shall be according to officer’s sense of understanding sagacity, acumen for valuation and capacity for instantaneous decision and policy making.

3)         In this pyramidal shape every internee shall be assigned his individual role, position, grading and status.

4)         Naturally such a vast clan cannot be controlled without proper rules, regulations and a diehard procedure, so that a functional harmony may be engendered. This is essential so that a situation may not arise where inter-departmental encroachment may not raise its head.

5)         Every modern government is highly cautious in making precise and detailed rules and procedures for the assignment of duties and responsibilities of each office. It is an organization of superior-inferior relationship. Rational and impersonal regulations become a MUST.

The Background

Bureaucracy contains a pungent smell behind it whereas the term Public Administration considerably satisfies the mind. The common man wants to share the government responsibilities. There has erupted a Wall of China between the ruling bureaucracy and the ruled man in the street. Both are askance of each other. Once again it becomes a problem of SAHIB BAHADUR and KALA-MAN. With public administration both the parties seem to be coming near each other, thus develops a mutual confidence. To serve public becomes the norm of one Party. To get service is bequeathed as a right to the other party. The prominent sociologists are of the opinion that the change in name often entails a healthy clime. The attitude of the bureaucrat is criticized vehemently because of his aloofness from those who helped him in reaching this high pedestal. They look upon him as one obliged. They want his service, his nearness, his devotion, sincerity and public performance. Harmony and friendship is found in Public Administration but not in bureaucracy. Bureaucracy and Bureaucrat are rapidly losing ground. In the process of Bureaucratic Reformation the word “Service” has now been removed and “Group” has taken its place. This was one of the steps towards changing the attitude of the bureaucrat. The bureaucrat was expected to formulate a sort of healthy conduct. His motto was to be nothing else but “SERVICE TO THE PEOPLE”. When we say conduct of a bureaucrat, we do not refer to any of his instinctive and spontaneous activities. It must be a part and parcel of his character. Bureaucrat is under obligation to build character by repeated and uniform exercise of will in certain directions.

Bureaucracy in Pakistan

We have inherited our bureaucracy from the British Rulers. Pakistan as an international entity emerged on the global map in the middle of August 1947. The Bureaucratic set-up was also bifurcated between the two emerging countries. Pakistan’s emergence was so surprising and so sudden that’ it baffled even the originators and makers of Pakistan. An option was given to align and serve any one of these two independent sovereign political entities. It is on record that a minority of bureaucrats opted for Pakistan and that also reluctantly. Those who came, brought with them the traditions of the colonial rule. Their psychology and entire look-out was moulded to serve nothing except the British Interests. It could not be expected that they would be Pakistanized over-night. They were trained and socialized to further the cause of the white-masters. They were taught to control, contain and suppress the public urges. Their sole aim had been to deprive natives of having any share in the national resources. When the representative governments came to be established, bureaucracy assumed as its duty to control political parties and suppress the voice of the politicians to maintain stranglehold of the “British Raj”. After the Quaid-e-Azam and Liaquat Ali Khan, bureaucracy adopted a prominent hypocritical role of befriending the politicians, coax the political parties but widening the sphere of their power and control. After 1950, the new country was deep in political crisis. Seeds of separation between the two wings of Pakistan had begun sprouting. Mutual dissentions came on the surface. Constitution-framing proved to be an uphill task. The chaos strengthened the bureaucracy. Mr Ghulam Mohammad was a thoroughbred bureaucrat. He came on the top and assumed the role of Chief Executive and the Governor General of Pakistan. A little later another staunch son of the British Empire, Ch. Mohammad Ali assumed premiership and another bureaucrat Sikandar Mirza became the last Governor General and the first President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

This was the way through which bureaucracy expanded the frontiers of administrative discretion and power to discourage the political Institutions. It adopted different names at different times, e.g., Civil Bureaucracy in the shape of Ch. Mohammad Ali, Mohammad Ali Bogra and Shoaib Mohammad; or military bureaucracy of Ayub Khan, Sikandar Mirza, Muhammad Yahya and General Zia-ul-Haque, or it emerged as Industrial bureaucracy of Valikas, Dauds, Ahmad’s, Saigols and so on. All national, economic and industrial policies were framed, shaped, reshaped and promulgated at the behest of these industrial magnates. They set trends of the Federal Budgets. Leakage of Tax Proposals was a common phenomenon. They were bartering Pakistan.


In Pakistan, another kind of latent bureaucracy is also prevalent. This is the bureaucracy of Pirs, Gaddi Nashines, religious rulers, Sardars from Baluchistan, Khans from FATA and NWFP, Vederas from Sind and Jagirdars from the Punjab. These are all killers of Bureaucracy but undisputed patrons of bureaucracy. Becoming cleverer with experience, political instability and disintegrity, these bureaucrats promoted the idea that their influence can be strong and continue if they lean towards and formulate alliances with:

  1. Federal aristocracy;
  2. Sons of Entrepreneurial class.

Twenty families of Pakistan come in the first category, whereas a selective number of the second group has become powerful enough to maintain overall control of the apparatus of the government. Innumerable departments and sections are run, managed and controlled by them. The net result of such a phenomenon is that national sufferings have become immense. Palace affairs are in fashion. Ballot has long lost its sanctity. People of Pakistan are in a state of insensitivity. Bureaucracy is corrupt and inefficient. National Economics has touched the lowest slump. Pakistan enjoys no dignity in the community of Nations. Bureaucracy stands intoxicated with massive power.

Pakistan came into being as an ideological state. Early bureaucracy was also infused with the same spirit of ideology. They not only opted for Pakistan, they also determined to make the new country strong. On October 11, 1947, the Quaid-e-Azam gave a guideline to a gathering of officers-Civil, Military, Naval and Air-force. He said:-

“You have to infuse a new spirit in your men by precept and by example. You have to make them feel that they are working for a Cause and that the Cause is worth every sacrifice that they may be called upon to make”.

The era of dictatorship began in 1958. The early enthusiasm for Pakistan stood fizzled out. The people ceased to be enthusiastic about progress, dignity, security and integrity of Pakistan. Wrong policies disgusted the intelligent. The personal charm of Ayub Khan helped the situation for a while. The moment he faded out and Yahya came, bureaucracy came to know its power, its influence and its greed for gold. The color of bureaucracy now has become digraphic in nature. The bureaucracy on the whole has become a victim of the political domination. They forgot their dignity, their status, their responsibilities. Like puppets they were treated, and likewise they gave themselves upto the rulers or would be rulers. Vested interests utilized them to their heart’s content. Bureaucracy stands naked in the eyes of the general public. All bureaucratic groups have now become saleable commodity. Rules, regulations, procedures, status, sense of service, sincerity and devotion are bygone factors. The phenomenon has, by all means, out-proportioned all feasible and reasonable limits. This is the time that attitude should change.

In addition to the incapacity of bureaucracy to realize and relate constructively with the political institutions, it also suffered from a variety of structural defects. The rigid social stratification was virtually carried into public service structure. Like Hindu Caste System, Public administration in Pakistan is divided in several categories as under:

a) Very elite and covetous cadres: Let us call them the Brahmans of public administration. Whosoever aspires to compete for the C.S.S., this has always been his oal. They control all avenues of employment. Such as District Management group, Police group, Foreign Affairs group.

b) Central Superior Services of comparatively low rank: such as Income Tax group, Custom and Excise, Civil and Military Accounts.

c) Low-ranking services with few fringe benefits: Such as Information, Postal, Office Management, Commerce and Planners group.

We find, therefore, that fruits of bureaucratic Power, Prestige and Patronage continued to be unevenly distributed among various categories and classes of Government servants. Access to key administrative positions in the Center, Provinces and Corporations became the sale prerogative of members of the elite classes of public servants who were assured of accelerated advancement in their career. This is the picture that bureaucratic structure shows us. This brief history of Pakistan Bureaucracy from 1947 up to the present times brings before us the following hard facts:

  1. Competitive examinations held by the FPSC have undergone a dire revolution. In place of meritorious candidates, the desired placed are now awarded on family or political loyalties. The Pandora box was tried to open when direct recruitment were made of Additional and Joint secretaries in the federation, but never got succeeded.
  2. For a true bureaucrat, it was incumbent that he should be the recipient of good educational qualification and having effective knowledge of his specialized duties. With the overall decline in the national education system and rampant corruption, a new vicious brand of bureaucrats came in the forefront. This breed was devoid of patriotism, national upliftment zeal and selflessness. Instead of “boon” they proved themselves to be a “bane” for national polity.
  3. The New bureaucrat considers his job as his sole occupation. His main concerns are stability even at the cost of Abject Sycophancy, continuity of service, promotion, allowances and seniority. Now he is a bureaucrat minus conscience.

Recommended Measures

This is, we believe the place where we can answer the quarry “How to Change the Attitude of Bureaucrats”? It would be good to devise an effective machinery where the performance and conduct of bureaucracy is under constant watch and supervision. A change in basic attitudes is the most important task which confronts our public servants and policy-makers; if the philosophy behind the administrative structural reform is to have its full impact on the life of the nation. The following reformatory measures are recommended:

  1. Efficiency and good service to the common man, bureaucracy must be given a clear sense of direction of advancing without barriers towards the ideals of social justice and enlightenment to which the people and their government is committed.
  2. Patriotic dynamic approach to the problems of development must be one of the top priorities.
  3. Constructive and not mercenary psychology should be the hall­mark of a dedicated public service. For this purpose, the Will of the people and proper Accountability is imperative.
  4. Abolish rigid distinction among various categories of Government Servants.
  5. Restraint with a strict hand the rivalries of public servants inter Se.
  6. The evil of unprecedented security of tenure must be re-valued.
  7. The bureaucratic corps must not become unwieldy. This will save the rank and file of planners from political pressure. There is an ocean of employees. There are 14,801 government servants working in the parent secretariat while 151,991 are working in the attached departments and sub-offices. Moreover 462,000 are in service in autonomous and semi-autonomous organizations.
  8. Concept of an Islamic welfare state must be the goal of bureaucracy. It would guide its future course of action and future state of affairs of society;
  9. Abolishing of Over-government and Overlordism;
  10. The Institution of Ombudsman and Accountability is the true public demand;
  11. At present the wages of low paid and the highest paid has a ratio of 1:50. This difference must be mitigated for a reasonable level;
  12. The correct grading of each post should be determined by job evaluation. These reforms will transform the entire body of the public servants into a motivated, enthusiastic, dynamic and into a dedicated work force capable of making optimum contribution to the phenomenon task of national development.
  13. Training system of bureaucrats requires a drastic change. All prestigious institutions like National Institute of Public Administration, Pakistan Administrative Staff College, Civil Services Academy and other departmental training institutions must introduce a full compulsory course in “Human Relations Training”, on regular basis, as done by most of the developed nations including U.S.A. and England. Where the Governments have introduced compulsory human relations training for the employees of civil services.

Concluding, the words of Quaid-e-Azam must be quoted once again. Addressing on group of officers in Chittagong on 28th March 1948, the great leader said:

“Make people feel that you are their servants and friends. Maintain the highest standard of honour, integrity, justice and fair play. If you do that people will have confidence in you and look upon you as friends and well-wishers.”

A little later on April 14th, 1948, he addressed the officers of NWFP government in the following words:

“They should try to create an atmosphere and work in such a spirit that everybody gets a fair deal and justice is done to everyone, and not only mere justice but people should feel that justice has been done to them”.

In the light of these quotes, let us hope that the attitude of our bureaucrats will undergo a change and the nation would be proud of them.