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“I must say that OMG can be a very good choice for females because it offers a scheduled job.” Former Chief Instructor Common Training Programme (CTP); DG Intellectual Property Organization (IPO) Pakistan
Jahangir’s World Times (JWT): How do you see the importance of Office Management Group (OMG) in Pakistan’s bureaucratic structure?
Aamir Hasan (AH): I think OMG is a key occupational group in Pakistan’s bureaucratic structure. It is so because the OMG officers start their career as Section Officer at the federal secretariat ‘the spine of the federal government. They also have exposure to policymaking right from the beginning. The initial experience of working in the capital with the ministries becomes a constant source of help for young officers who would later become joint secretaries or even federal secretaries. In addition, OMG also offers variety of postings in the federal secretariat, autonomous bodies and in embassies. So, it’s a highly important pillar of our bureaucratic structure.
JWT: How OMG is attractive for females because most of them feel confused while prioritizing the occupational groups?
AH: First of all, let me make it very clear that my views are based on my own experience as Chief Instructor Common Training Programme (CTP). I don’t, in any case, want to discourage female aspirants but highlighting some realities is necessary here.
Naturally, everyone is ambitious about life and same is true for the females too, but I have noticed that many ambitious females, who are in field jobs, can’t strike a balance between their official duties and family life. I know many brilliant female officers who are doing challenging jobs, but they either do not get married or their family life remains disturbed. For instance, if a female in Foreign Service of Pakistan is posted in China, then what his husband will do in China? He simply cannot follow his wife wherever she is posted. Similarly, in PAS and PSP, there is hardly any scheduled working, and a female officer can be called anytime; so her children and family suffer a lot.
Furthermore, if a female is in a profession that imparts to her a high social status, then she will have to espouse a man of equal social standing; otherwise her life could become too complex. Hence, before going into Civil Services or any other career, females must consider this family life factor.
Now, as far as female aspirants are concerned, I must say that OMG can be a very good choice for them because it offers a scheduled job, a settled life in Islamabad. It’s my personal experience because my wife is also from the OMG and right now she is the youngest officer in grade 21.
JWT: Being former chief instructor of, hence privy to, Common Training Programme (CTP), what, do you think, were its important strengths?
AH: Well, CTP is basically designed for the grooming of young officers. In Civil Service Academy (CSA), majority of officers hail from humble background so their exposure and level of self-confidence is enhanced through this programme. Regular practice of debates and making presentations, performing leadership roles in different functions are ensured at the CSA along with a special focus on polishing officers’ communication skills. Furthermore, to further strengthen the CTP, local case studies are also being included which prove very beneficial to the officers. These, to me, are the strengths of the CTP.
JWT: If you were the DG CSA today, what changes would you have made to the CTP?
AH: I must say the present DG CSA is more competent then I. And, I’m sure she would be bringing about a number of changes to ameliorate the training system. And, as you asked, if I am made DG CSA today, I will introduce two major changes. First, I will make it more practical by engaging officers into field assignments instead of theoretical work. Second, my focus will be on ethical grooming of the officers.
JWT: A view, which is gaining ground nowadays, is that final allocations to occupational groups should be made after the accomplishment of CTP keeping in view the officers’ true talent, calibre and skills. How do you see it?
AH: In initial years of CTP, the officers were allocated according to their performance in this programme and the young officers also took it seriously. But, because of favouritism and some other ills, it was discontinued. I personally support this view. However, it should be in place only after we have developed the desired institutional strength so that no fingers could be pointed at the veracity of the allocations.
JWT: Why CSA hasn’t yet acquired institutional strength like Pakistan Military Academy (PMA), Kakul has?
AH: Good question. Actually, in army best officers are assigned the task of training the new recruits. In fact, most of our army chiefs had served in various training institutions and they also feel a sense of pride in it. Unfortunately, in case of civil services, we haven’t been able to develop such a culture. I joined the CSA as a faculty member by choice; because teaching is my passion. But same is not the case with every faculty member. For instance, if an officer wants to live in Lahore, he would prefer to join the CSA. Moreover, the officers not in the good books of government get sidelined and are posted to training institutions. Such factors have hampered the prospects of CSA becoming a prestigious training institution.
Naturally, everyone is ambitious about life and same is true for the females too, but I have noticed many ambitious females, who are in field jobs, can’t strike a balance between their official duties and family life.
AH: It’s a broad topic and requires detailed elaboration; but I will try to sum it up in a few words. First of all, our bureaucracy must be depoliticized. Secondly, the officers must have security of their tenure but there must be a robust system of checks and balances in place as well. The presently-available forum for this purpose ‘Services Tribunal’ is literally ineffective. And lastly, the remuneration packages must be made comparable with the market. These reforms can bring a tremendous, positive change in the Civil Service of Pakistan.
JWT: You have been a Community Welfare Attache (CWA) in Kuwait for some years. How would you describe your experience?
AH: Actually, I served for almost four years in Kuwait. It is just a small city-state and at that time, there were only one hundred and twenty thousand Pakistanis. So, everybody had access to the embassy and they expected a lot from CWA. However, all of our mainstream political parties have their presence in Kuwait in form of community welfare organizations. During my tenure as CWA, I understood that if one works impartially, then everybody will cooperate because all Pakistani community welfare organizations had been very supportive to me.
I would like to tell you that once about 1500 Pakistanis came to Kuwait on work visa. They were the victims of a fraudulent offer because the firm which hired them did not, at all, exist. They all approached the embassy for help. By the grace of Allah Almighty, and by the support of my ambassador and all Pakistani community welfare organizations, I convinced the Kuwait; authorities to legalize their stay and to not put any penalty on those who want to go back to Pakistan. I feel, it was my greatest achievement as CWA.
JWT: Is the registration of intellectual property rights an integral part of the enforcement, or does the enforcement arise after registration?
AH: The stage of enforcement arises after registration. In IPO, we deal, basically, with three types of intellectual properties: trademarks, copyrights and patents. But we cannot take action unless a complaint is formally launched with us or FIA or Police. We are not, in effect, an enforcement agency. For enforcement, we are dependent on FIA, Police and Customs.
JWT: Pakistan’s total mango production exceeds a million ton mark, but we can export hardly ten per cent of it. Is it so because we don’t have registered trademarks of mangoes?
AH: For the registration of mangoes, a separate law namely Geographical Indication’s Law is in place. But, in Pakistan, we haven’t made legislation in this regard. We are working vigorously on that. We are consulting all the stakeholders including Ministry of Commerce, TDAP and World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Once our parliament approves the respective draft laws, we shall place separate registries not only for mangoes but also for Peshawari Chappal, Sargodha Kinoo and many other Pakistani products. And it will an impetus to growth of our exports.