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Meliorating the Civil Services

Today’s Most Pressing Need

It is often said that CSS is a test of one’s intelligence, capabilities and talent as it helps brilliant minds in climbing up to the top rung of the success ladder. But, is it really so? This is the moot point, especially in the wake of CSS-2014 written part result, which has baffled numerous aspirants.

The CSS exam continues to be a hard nut to crack. Though the pass percentage has slightly improved, yet the quality of the recruits is still a matter of grave concern.

As per details as many as 24640 candidates registered for CSS-2014 exam but 13170 actually took it, and only 439 — merely 3.3 per cent — could get through. But, are all these 439 successful candidates blessed with the best qualities of head and heart? Given the overall quality of officers recruited in recent years, the answer is an unequivocal NO.

Then, what is the best way forward?

Through the pages of Jahangir’s World Times, we have been incessantly urging the FPSC to take radical steps to improve the state of affairs. We also presented a prudential reform package aimed at ameliorating the whole exam process.

Every year thousands of aspirants with dreams of a brighter future in their eyes take the CSS exam. A glittering career, a promising future and the respect as well as authority the CSS offers, allures our educated youth to chance their arm. Given this, a large number of non-serious people also enter the arena. But, in CSS 2014, out of all the registered candidates, 11470 didn’t bother to appear in the exam. This obligates the FPSC to put a full stop to this practice because hefty amounts are spent on making exam arrangements for such a huge number of candidates. All applicants would definitely take the exam if the submission of challan form is counted as one attempt.

Another effective step could be a test aimed at screening out the non-serious applicants — the FPSC had announced a Screening Test, yet the process is in the doldrums till this day. Such a test, on one hand, will bring only talented students to the fore, and on the other, the workload of examination staff will also be eased. It will also help in reducing paper-checking time and curbing expenses of circulating answer sheets and finalising results.

Another alarming fact is that despite the number of foreign-qualified students as well as those from Pakistan’s most prestigious institutions at the rise, no substantial improvement in the quality of officers has been seen yet.

Candidly speaking, there are two basic reasons behind this crisis.

First, it is the exam system that ‘exhorts’ rote learning. Memorizing only a few questions and then reproducing them on paper is considered sufficient to pass the exam. This thinking must be discouraged. Owing to the diversity of knowledge required to get through it, the Screening Test would be the most effective tool in this regard as well.

Second — and probably more serious — is the issue with the Psychological Assessment of the candidates. There are reservations about those who are assigned the task to assess the personalities of the candidates. Unfortunately, their laxity and slackness have been responsible for sending many such officers to the civil service fraternity who wouldn’t have otherwise qualified. For instance, police investigation into the death of Nabiha Chaudhry, a female under-training CSP officer, revealed that she committed suicide under extreme mental stress. Another PSP officer in Sargodha murdered a 23-year-old youth following a minor argument over parking. This makes inevitable the introduction of psychological assessment process as adopted by the ISSB to recruit officers for Pakistan Army.
No one can deny the fact that the Civil Service of Pakistan is in a downward spiral. Unless those at the helm show seriousness and sincerity, the melioration of the civil structure will remain a distant dream.

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