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“The required thing to excel is commitment and dedication under proper and sincere guidance”

Throw light on your education and achievements.

Although I have an ordinary education background yet I have been blessed with extraordinary career achievements. I am masters in Economics. I got admission in MBBS at Chandka Medical College (CMC), Larkana, but I quit it and went for job at the age of 20 due to family responsibilities. I have been working in Motorway Police as Senior Patrolling Officer (SPO). I have qualified three competitive examinations consecutively: PCS Combined Competitive Exam-2008, CSS-2009 and CSS-2010.

What’s so special in Foreign Service that you opted for this category?

Foreign Service has always been my passion. It is the group which offers dual advantages simultaneously: career growth and intellectual growth. It provides you international scope and global horizons. You become representative of your country and nation in other countries which is a great pride and honour. A Foreign Service officer gets opportunities to serve not only in country’s missions but also in international organisations.

What are the various advantages of this group as compared to other top groups?
All the service/occupational groups offered in the CSS have their own advantages. It depends on the taste of individual which flavour he likes. In other groups, the civil servants serve the country by running home affairs and framing domestic policies whereas the diplomats serve the overseas community and frame national foreign policy.

Other incentives of Foreign Service of Pakistan (FSP) include handsome salary package while abroad posting and education of kids in international schools are the positive points.

How can you project the image of the country across the world?

I can project the image of my homeland through diplomacy rather to say public diplomacy. Unfortunately, the image of our country is not upto the desired level, we need to work hard for developing astute diplomacy and enhance public relations in foreign countries.

We also need to pursue our overseas Pakistani community to exhibit as role models by exercising tolerance, empathy, cooperation and discipline in order to project the image of our country across the world.

Foreign Service requires a person to be a very convincing and diplomatic personality, what do you think?

In foreign affairs, you are required to practise diplomacy, which is defined as management of international relations through negotiations, and to be successful in negotiations you need to be convincing and diplomatic.

Foreign policy is dictated by the head of the state, diplomat is merely a messenger, but at the same time he can blend the state policy within his own style of thinking, do you agree?

Foreign policy, though directed by head of state is, in fact, an expression of the will people of country for safeguarding and promoting ‘national interest. The professionalism requires the diplomat to simply execute that policy with diplomacy. However, he can achieve desired tasks and goals with his skills and proficiency. He can also be instrumental in framing the foreign policy through his intellectual input during his career.

What steps are required for the preparation of CSS?

The most important in the CSS is the understanding of competitive examinations. However, the steps required for CSS exam preparation are:
  1. Seek proper and sincere guidance.
  2. Choose Optional subjects carefully.
  3. Thorough study and analysis of papers.
  4. Preparation strategy and planning.
  5. Time distribution for subjects.
  6. Continued practice of writing and attempting papers.
  7. Get the papers checked by qualified experts.

    Besides, the CSS candidate must have hope and will of qualifying exam, which gives him confidence in attempting papers, alongwith fear of failure, which gears him to work hard.

    What paper presentation an examiner requires and tell the techniques how can one get higher marks in written?

Most importantly, the candidate shall comprehend the asked question and ensure that he is answering to the point. The outline of every answer attracts examiner’s attention and exhibits what candidate has to offer in the question. In addition, the analysis and argumentativeness are crucial for scoring high marks.

You have an excellent score in interview (222). How to prepare and score in interview?

The CSS interview comprises two parts: Psychological assessment and interview. The former plays vital role in framing your base for the later, so it shall be taken seriously. In interview, it is important not only ‘what you answer’ but also ‘How you answer’. One needs to be optimistic, positive and progressive in interview. He shall learn to maintain eye contact and confident body language. If one doesn’t know the ‘right answer’ to any question he shall say ‘sorry instead of ‘beating about the bush. He shall be clear and expressive in answers and shall demonstrate analytical approach.

Which combination should the candidates opt for optional subjects and also suggest the best books for these optional subjects?

In my opinion, candidates shall select subjects of their interest and aptitude. However, the combination of one of Histories, one of Social Sciences, Public Administration and International Relations or Law is the best. The books of renowned writers should be consulted.
Most importantly, the candidate shall comprehend the asked question and ensure that he is answering to the point.
You have qualified three competitive examinations consecutively. What was special in your preparation?
It is the blessing of Almighty Allah. I think the understanding of examination was crucial in qualifying exams. I was fortunate to have wide interaction and guidance of my seniors and friends during preparation. Mr. Saad Sikandar, DMG; Javed Soonharo Jiskani, PSP; Mr. Tariq Hussain Chandio, DMG, among seniors and Dr. Javed Kumbahr, DMG; Mr. Waheed Abro, Customs; and Mr Asim Raza Chaudhry, DMG, among my friends have been my mentors.

It is wide perception that a poor person, an employed one or one with family responsibilities cannot do the CSS as it is a tough exam. What is your observation?

My success refutes all such perceptions. I, despite facing all those hardships, qualified not only CSS-2009 but also CSS-2010 and PCS-2008. I rather believe in the proverb, ‘Sweet are the uses of adversity, Shakespeare said. Harder the circumstances more firm the resolve shall be.

However, it depends upon your commitment and dedication to the goals, counselling and guidance. If you are sincere with yourself, you can manage time for study, whatever your engagements be.

Any message

The CSS is one of the best careers for the graduates. It is a graduate level exam, which can be qualified by ordinary candidates. They must not miss this opportunity. The required thing to excel is commitment and dedication under proper and sincere guidance.

By: Irshad Ali Sodhar

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