The dream of inclusive social development will not materialise unless an efficient workforce selected through meritocracy reigns supreme in the nation’s directorial machinery. A dedicated public services system and pragmatic bureaucracy are inevitable elements of good governance. Meanwhile, recruitment, training, postings, and promotions of human capital are central in deciding the productivity of state institutions, public services delivery, and organizational efficacy. A proficient and disciplined workforce transparently selected and professionally trained is key to institutional development. Well-ordered institutions evolve a robust public service delivery and ensure inclusive socio-economic wellbeing.
Contrary to the developed societies where more efficient and professionally productive aspirants make it to the job market at the dint of their ability, Pakistan is an exceptional case. In our country, the financial strength and source outwit and outweigh cognitive capabilities. Educational efficiency and intellectual abilities are not necessarily the benchmarks for making it to the job market. Alternatively, in most instances, a candidates’ ability is measured by their financial stake and family background. Wealth compensates for the required ability and eligibility for a particular position. In this way, the more a person is affluent, the higher the prospects of making it to the job market. In other words, jobs are bargained at exorbitantly high prices.
Another key that unlocks the windows to a promising career in the country is the candidate’s links or the strength of their backers and recommendations. The aspirants with sound family backgrounds and approaches are empowered to be blessed with jobs regardless of their academic proficiency. Similarly, officials encroaching public institutions for generations – both working and retired – use their connections and influence to get their favourite candidates into any vacant positions in blatant violation of rules and procedures. Most of the vacancies are distributed by the officials of the public and semi-government organizations. The ossified authoritative grasp bar the entry of efficient candidates without connection or financial clout. Most of the selection committees of government, semi-government organisations, NGOs and INGOs are exceedingly encroached by politicised officials apathetic towards meritocracy and transparency. Another trend is that even in the most of organisations including private ones, a mere tag of degree or branded institution is prioritised over ability. A plagiarised PhD is preferred over an efficient Master or Bachelor candidate.
However, luckily if any vacancy survives the departmental heist and undergoes a third-party recruitment process, it fails to escape from the clutches of the moneyed and propertied class. The recruitment commissions and private selection agencies promote favouritism and nepotism with the utter disregard for transparent recruitment as laid down in the laws of land and constitution. Given the invaluable monetary clout and megalomania, the moneyed and aristocratic class vie for lucrative posts to multiply their wealth and influence. This willingness to pay tens of millions for each post deprives efficient candidates from a humble family background of the due rewards that they worked for. The aspirants making it through payments are experts at only one thing: returning the paid amount and amassing as many riches as possible. Delivering to the masses nowhere exists in their minds or official agenda.
Against this backdrop, the intellectual and efficient candidates with humble backgrounds are more worried about their carrier than their idle, pseudo-literate, and elitist counterparts. Academically qualified and dedicated graduates easily get bypassed by affluent, patronised, and sponsored aspirants: the former is left with no option but to bury dreams and put off their family’s hopes – who, despite grinding financial constraints fund their children’s studies for a brighter future. Regrettably, the appointments and joining orders of various jobs are distributed from the ill-built bungalows of electables and elites.
In addition to the unreported recruitment heists, frequent scandals of favouritism, nepotism and the sale of vacant positions in almost all public service commissions of the country are the cases in point. Sindh Public Service Commission (SPSC) is notoriously prominent in this regard. None of its results goes unchallenged in the court of law. It is an epitome of epic inefficiency and incompetency. Transparent selections and appointments are increasingly becoming exceptions rather than the rule in Pakistan.
The country’s questionable recruitment culture laced with politicisation and anomalies keeps costing the country dearly. An ossified culture of corruption to the extent of acceptance, growing socio-economic divide and stratifications, dwindling quality of education and research, rising brain drain, institutional failures and the bankruptcy of public sector enterprises are manifestations of the flawed appointments in the country.
Good governance and inclusive socio-economic development would remain a distant dream unless a vibrant, transparent and accountable recruitment mechanism is implemented in Pakistan. Reorganising and reforming selection commissions and committees, manning the same with officials of utmost integrity and undoing political and paid appointments would help serve the purpose of improving governance.