Moving towards concluding 2020 on a positive note, the Civil Servants’ Efficiency and Discipline Rules has been approved by PM Imran Khan. Not only would this initiative incur greater transparency and accountability within the system but it will also bring about adherence to the law, especially needed within the problematic operational structure of the Pakistani Civil Service.
According to the announcement made by the government, the arrangement of the dispersal of authority has been altered to eliminate the Authorised Officer and leave processes in the hands of the Authority and Inquiry Committee. This is positive because it resolves the problem of inconsistent decisions about disciplinary action at lower levels. No longer will officers be able to get away with misdemeanours through experiencing negligible repercussions.
Similarly, provisions on plea bargains and voluntary returns have been made so that accountability is held supreme under this faction of the government. Lastly, the rules have also set specific timelines for procedures such as inquiries, responding to changes and passing decisions on cases. This sense of urgency is especially important considering that often, due to an absence of a fixed timeframe, cases remain open for years. For a body like the civil service, that is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the country, such a lackadaisical approach is unacceptable.
Now, the hope is that this new regulation will be followed sincerely, to improve bureaucratic performance, and will be improved upon in the future. The matter of postings, the duration of postings within a specific department as well as providing comprehensive reasons for a change in position, so as to incur a greater check on the government, need to be addressed sooner or later. However, for now, we must eagerly wait to see how the Efficiency and Discipline Rules pan out.