In Conversation with
Rana Muhammad Dilawar (PSP)
39th in Pakistan, CSS 2018-19
Catch line: Only in PSP, you can give immediate relief to the distressed people.
Jahangir’s World Times (JWT): First of all, please tell us about your educational background?
Rana Muhammad Dilawar (RMD): I got my initial education from Government Emerson College, Multan. Then, I did BA from the same college with distinction throughout Punjab and was selected for CM Punjab World Study Tour Program in 2011. Afterwards, I earned a master’s degree in International Relations from QAU, Islamabad with Gold Medal (2013). Later, I did MPhil in Defence & Strategic Studies from the same university in 2017. I have worked in Multan Development Authority as Assistant Director Estate & Land Management. I also have the distinction of working in Parliament House as Young Parliamentary Associate in an EU-funded project IP3 (Improving Parliamentary Performance in Pakistan).
JWT: Since you have been allocated to the Police Service of Pakistan (PSP), what was the feature of this service that attracted you most?
RMD: PSP is considered among the most powerful groups as it gives an officer immense powers and prestige. I am a strong believer of the maxim that power is conferred upon an individual to carry out the burden of responsibilities which are allied with a task or job. Only in PSP, you can give immediate relief to the distressed people. Moreover, this group offers an individual an opportunity to work both in the field and also in the capacity of a policymaker.
JWT: What, in your opinion, is the key to making a difference in written part of CSS exam?
RMD: Every aspirant has a different approach towards it acing the written part of CSS exam. There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution to it and every aspirant has to devise his/her strategy. Some of the things that helped me in this regard were:
- Keeping calm and treating CSS exam as an exam like the ones that one keeps on giving over the course of one’s age.
- More importantly taking good care of health and ensuring proper sleep during exam.
- Making e-notes as they are easily manageable.
- Quoting references from recently-published books, journals, reports, etc.
- Covering outlines of different topics instead of cramming every recommended book.
- Reading relevant, credible and good material so as to understand and reproduce the best possible knowledge on the answer sheet.
- Doing a lot of written practice as it gives you the required confidence to ace the CSS exam.
- Taking in mock exams; it is of paramount importance to nullify the anxiety that overpowers an aspirant and leads towards failure.
- Making notes at the appropriate time and updating them regularly.
- Learning how an argument is built from scratch.
JWT: Generally, compulsory subjects are considered low-scoring, what was your strategy to get through these very papers?
RMD: I followed a 5-point strategy.
- Writing and practicing English essays on a regular basis.
- Getting essays evaluated, and working on mistakes so that every essay is better than the last.
- Not letting English Composition paper get on my nerves and preparing for all the components rather than just Précis.
- Studying Islamiat from different, original sources. Quoting renowned scholars and writing Persian and Urdu poetry and translating it into English.
- Preparing current affairs from multiple papers and international journals.
JWT: How answers should be written to get maximum marks?
RMD: Answers should be properly structured with an introduction, body and conclusion. This structure should be followed in all subjects. Instead of a traditional introduction, I would recommend to start writing from any latest development, as it gives an impression that you know the latest development. Headings must be given as they facilitate the examiner. Your arguments must be logical, relevant, coherent and non-clichéd. They must not give the impression that sub-standard material was consulted during preparation. Sound reasoning skills must be applied to the body. Conclusion must be treated as conclusion, not just as the summary of the question. The arguments must be effectively closed and concluded in this part.
JWT: Should there be some word limit kept in mind while writing answers?
JWT: How did you structure your Essay and what was your strategy for Précis and Composition Paper?
RMD: I always start essay in a non-traditional way. I used to start from any latest development related to the essay topic. I wrote a thesis statement at the start which had three components, i.e. stance, direction and broader implication. The outline was derived from the thesis statement not from the topic of the essay. Outline was in the form of arguments, not pointers. Every point of outline was an individual argument and one flowed from another. I wrote a catchy introduction which introduced the thesis statement in an effective way. Moreover, I never tried to copy any writing style and just kept on improving my own. Using strong words is not a necessity. Just keep one thing in mind: ‘the simpler, the better’.
Précis and Composition paper is important regarding all its aspects. Synonyms and antonyms must be considered as important as précis itself. The biggest fallacy an aspirant can fall into is only preparing for précis and ignoring other components. All components must be given equal weight in order to secure good marks.
JWT: How a new aspirant should start his preparations and what areas should he focus?
RMD: A new aspirant should:
- Start with getting some general and background knowledge.
- Assess his/her strengths and weaknesses in terms of subjects.
- Identify his/her strongest and weakest subject without any preparation.
- Formulate a mental plan to divide time till the commencement of CSS exam.
- Start slow and gradually gain pace.
- Find some mentors as they can be really help you ace the exam.
- Even if it is your first attempt, prepare like it is your last.
My tips on:
Selection of optional subjects
Only those subjects should be chosen in which you feel you’re interested. In this way, you’ll never be bored while preparing for them for long periods of time. Moreover, also follow the scoring trend. But again it’s a gamble.
- Try to make notes in word files as they are easily manageable. You can easily add and delete anything.
- Notes must be very precise.
- Include quotations and other relevant information at the top of the paper.
- Keep on updating them.
- If the initial notes are not short enough, be sure to make them shorter.
Before entering the interview room, I was a bit nervous despite all the efforts. However, as soon as I entered the room, the panellists greeted me warmly and made me feel comfortable. One highlight of my interview was when Chairman asked me: ‘You have to tell us the solution of the Kashmir issue immediately as you are a strategist?’ I have shared all the possible bookish and novel solutions, but they kept on insisting we want immediate solution right now. At this, I said, “Sir, when the renowned strategists of the world are clueless, then how come I to predict the immediate solution in a short span of time.” This is how I defused the pressure of the members. Mr Chairman burst into laughter at this and other members joined him too. So, it was a very good experience overall.