Daily Times Editorial 15 October 2019

Other side of the CSS exams


Enough is said about the decline in standards of education when measured, traditionally, by the result of the CSS examination. About 23,000 applied for it this year and 372 could get through. Little, however, is known of the other side of this story. That so few could pass the test is a sad indeed. But sadder still is the fact is that so many applied for it. Why is CSS among the top priorities of our youth when they cry murder about the red tape and officialdom that is impeding progress of this country? This is a system of governance that produces more problems than solutions. Despite all the pomp about the tough standards of examination and criteria for selection, it remains a sordid reality that the volume of corruption is increasing in our country. To boot, inefficiency has marred our government offices to a point that they have become a burden on the state.
The problem is with the system which fails to find the right man for the right job. A doctor is looking after law and order situation of a city and a woman with a degree in English literature is put in charge of customs collections. The result is before us – utter chaos, which we all detest. But then we envy the powers that these officers wield. People stand in front of them, heads hung and hands joined. They hold open courts and decide who gets what and what not. The level of their popularity is obvious from the fact that we see banners and ads strung in our streets bearing their photos; thanking them for doing what they simply are supposed to do.
Mindful of their powers and envy of the masses, they have set up shop in every nook and cranny of the country where they sell false promises to our youth. Chasing this mirage, our youth pays them high fees for test preparation and their precious time. The young aspirants should know that reading one single book is more meaningful than cramming 100 to get in this rat race as they can do better than this. *


Across the table in Tehran and Riyadh


Pakistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia are all well aware of the old adage that “it’s easier to start a war than to end it”. Prime Minister Imran Khan’s initiative to stave off tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia, not only for the interests of either side but also for the good of Pakistan and Afghanistan, is praiseworthy. These countries have experienced the wrath of war in recent decades. Pakistan has been the theater of war on terror for two decades, while Iran bore the brunt of a bloody conflict with Iraq in the 80s. Saudi Arabia embroiled itself in the Yemen strife five years ago, and since then there has been no end to it. Pakistan being a friend to both countries may play well the role of a facilitator or mediator, if both Tehran and Riyadh are receptive to the idea. Prime Minister Khan met Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani during a one-day visit to Tehran on Sunday and said it was his own initiative to bring both countries close to each “to iron out their differences”. Before taking a flight for Riyadh in the coming days, Khan will have to prepare his mind to face stiff or willing faces there because of the complex nature of ties between the two countries. Riyadh should be receptive to Pakistan’s initiative as improved ties with Tehran will impact Syria, and its ties with Istanbul.
Saudi Arabia ought to be credited with showing restraint in the wake of an armed attack on its oil installation back in September this year. Despite being instigated by beleaguered US President Donald Trump, the maverick crown price, Muhammed bin Salman, ruled out war. In fact, he also did not dismiss Khan’s initiative to give diplomacy a chance. Recent developments are, however, worrisome. The US has announced stationing thousands of its troops in Saudi Arabia, which implies escalation of the conflict in the region in the coming days. US troops are being deployed at a high cost. The kingdom, which has introduced several economic reforms, should revisit its decision of deploying foreign ‘mercenaries’ on its soil. Also, an Iranian oil tanker came under a missile attack off coast Jeddah. Both sides have shown responsible behaviour instead of flying barbs and accusations. Iran says it will respond after ascertaining the facts.
PM Khan’s visit to Iran will strengthen ties between the two neighbours. While Pakistan is mending ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia, it should also take stock of its own relations with Afghanistan, which recently went sour because of a dispute over a market in Peshawar.

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