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Jahangir’s World Times (JWT): Please tell about your educational background and achievements?
Waseem Ahmad (WA): I did my matriculation from a government school in Rawalpindi. I am highly indebted to my teacher Sheikh Fazal Mehmood who is blind yet has a great, fertile mind. He instilled in me the passion to do the best.
After my graduation from Abbottabad, I started CSS preparation instead of getting enrolled for a Master’s degree. With countless blessings of Almighty Allah, incessant prayers of my parents and sincere encouragement of my friends, I appeared in CSS-2010 when I was only 21½ and half years old. I passed but unluckily, couldn’t get allocated. I appeared in PMS-2011 and stood 4th in the entire province. Meanwhile, I prepared for CSS-2012 and finally, I succeeded in getting 27th position in Pakistan, and 2nd position in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
JWT: Which was your favourite occupational group and in which group have you been allocated.
WA: By the grace of Allah, I got allocated in Pakistan Administrative Services (PAS). Being a dynamic and committed person, I believe that I can remain deeply in touch with the public by making myself accessible to everyone. Moreover, on reaching higher levels, I am highly interested in the ambit of planning and development.
I believe Pakistan has changed now as two new power centres, judiciary and media, have made their mark and they have ensured supremacy of law. Democracy is flourishing in the country. The military too is assimilating itself to the new developments. So, the bureaucracy should also adapt should to the environment and remove administrative anomalies.
JWT: Did you join any academy or you prepared for CSS on your own? And, should the aspirants join academies for better preparations?
WA: I didn’t join any academy for preparation of PMS or CSS. Nevertheless, I think the academies are helpful to those aspirants who are oblivious to the dynamics of CSS and are in dire need of guidance. However, while in academy, one should not compromise on his own creativity and originality.
JWT: What strategy would you suggest for an aspirant who wants to be among the top position-holders?
WA: First of all, judicious selection of good optional subjects is sine qua non to be among the toppers. One should choose only those subjects which suit one’s temperament, and also the syllabus of which can be easily covered. For instance, my optional subjects included Philosophy, usually an unattractive subject for most candidates, yet it appealed my literary taste. Hence, it yielded good score for me.
Secondly, such candidates must sharpen their analytical skills. In the light of my personal experience, I can say that in CSS, analytical skills are highly appreciated and rewarded with brilliant marks. To achieve this ability, the aspirants should read 2 to 3 standard books for each subject and avoid outdated notes or substandard books.
Thirdly, besides compiling their own short notes, they must attempt past papers of every subject. After English Essay and Composition, shift your focus onto EDS, Islamiat, and optional subjects as these will aid you in grabbing position. For EDS, prepare your own MCQs by picking up topics from syllabus.
Finally, while preparing for optional subjects prepare your own points and also don’t forget to take up past papers and go through the questions asked on these topics.
JWT: Most candidates fail English Essay and Precis & Composition papers. What strategy would you suggest for these two crucial papers?
WA: Yeah, you’re right! In this regard, every aspirant must be an avid reader of Dawn newspaper to improve his/her writing style. The knowledge of technical aspects of Essay like ‘thesis statement’, ‘topic sentence’, etc., is also indispensable. The aspirants must know how to develop the outline of an essay.
Precis can be tackled by acquiring the gist of the passage and employing the word substitution technique. Solving past 15 years’ papers of precis and composition would be extremely beneficial.
JWT: What sort of guidance, in your view, should the fresh aspirants seek for?
WA: Actually, along with guidance on compulsory papers, the fresh aspirants must seek guidance related to the selection of optional subjects and the books thereof. That’s why I said earlier that for a fresh candidate, joining an academy is fruitful.
JWT: How do you see Jahangir’s World Times (JWT) as far as guidance on CSS is concerned?
WA: The JWT is rendering commendable services for the CSS community. The articles published in JWT, along with the whole CSS Segment, are of immense help to the CSS aspirants. The interviews of position-holders make the aspirants aware of the strategy of successful people. Furthermore, the initiative for publishing the essays and articles penned by top position-holders is also highly significant.
JWT: Do you believe that luck plays an important role in success especially in CSS?
WA: Yes, luck does play its part in success but it cannot overwhelm the factor of burning the midnight oil. Let me say, even if one is unlucky, he can hugely minimise the impacts of ‘bad luck’ by doing hard work.
JWT: Many students of average intelligence are allocated while a number of talented and scholarly students just couldn’t make it. How would expound this fact?
WA: Complacency on part of an aspirant can prove disastrous. CSS doesn’t require some philosophical approach rather it demands a well-planned and directed effort at preparation stage, and while actually attempting the paper. The scholarly and intelligent students don’t put in the required efforts. And, what is the result, they fail! CSS requires a blend of creativity, organized writing and cramming.
JWT: Would you like to give any message to future aspirants?
WA: One-liner for all the aspirants ‘Victory belongs to the most perseverant.’