National institute of Management (NIM) Quetta
Jahangir’s World Times (JWT): You had served in both federal and provincial domains of bureaucracy, please tell us in the light of your experience what sort of reforms we need today in our bureaucratic setup?
Mehfooz Ali Khan (MAK): Well, we, basically, don’t have a proper system of human resource development in place at federal level or in Balochistan. People are recruited, given some fundamental training and then they are left at their own to perform their duties. There is no system through which their potential, knowledge and skills could be enhanced. Unfortunately, no provincial training institution in Balochistan as Railway Accounts Academy and NIM are federal institutions. So, first of all, we need training institutions, particularly in Balochistan, in order to channelize our human resource.
Secondly, we lack a comprehensive screening rather evaluation system. If a person is selected in any scale, then till the age of 60, he/she will continue, irrespective of his or her being inefficient or incapable. While in progressive systems, people are judged on the basis of their performance. We have mushroom growth of institutions like Anti-Corruption Establishment, NAB, FIA, etc., but there is no inbuilt system of accountability.
Thirdly, mostly top-level officials are sent abroad on training courses but on the contrary, the 80% of our workforce comprises the employees belonging to grade 1 to 16. There is no system in place for their professional grooming. Because of the unionism, they hardly care to perform well. For instance, whosoever completes a specific period in a grade, gets the financial benefits of the next grade. So, if good performer is not appreciated and encouraged, and bad one is not reprimanded, why one shall work with complete honesty.
Mehfooz Ali Khan, a bureaucrat par excellence, is the incumbent Director General of the National Institute of Management (NIM), Quetta. He has an illustrious record of maintaining optimal level of dedication to his duties and devotion to his work. After acquiring his Master’s degree in economics from the University of Balochistan, he was inducted into the provincial government as a Section Officer’ youngest officer at that time. Later he qualified CSS exam in 1980 with distinction as he stood second in Balochistan. He was inducted into Pakistan Audit and Accounts service (PAAS) and ultimately occupied the slot of Secretary Finance Balochistan.
Before joining the coveted, the Civil Service of Pakistan, he had also served as a journalist. Besides, he has a great passion for teaching and except UET Khuzdar, he had taught almost in all the universities and training institutes in Balochistan. He has also delivered lectures as visiting faculty at Command and Staff College Quetta. He had established a CSS coaching academy, as well, at Officers’ Club and seven of his students are currently part of Civil Service.
JWT: Do you think the absence of private sector is another factor responsible for low performance of government employees?
MAK: Yes, I would say that today, in Balochistan, we have more than 200,000 government employees and the number is increasing day by day. Absence of private sector is a major factor in the sense that with a single employer in place, i.e. the government of Balochistan; questions on the performance of the system are raised rightly because workforce is increasing while the delivery of services is decreasing. It is a fact that we don’t know how to get the best available from the market! We tend to put squares in the circles and circles in the square. In other words, we don’t employ a person in accordance with his or her skills.
JWT: As DG NIM have you brought any changes in your institution?
MAK: Earlier, all NIPAs were autonomous institutions run by the boards of directors but now all NIMs are working under the umbrella of National School of Public Policy (NSPP). We are allowed to run only one course i.e. Mid-career Management Course (MCMC) meant for the promotion from grade 18 to 19. So, the capacity of this institution is not fully exploited. If I want to launch a course at my own, I have to seek permission from the headquarters. I have a plan to start a periodical training for the subordinate staff of the provincial government which I had also discussed with the authorities and I am continuously advocating this plan as well. Hopefully, it will be approved soon and I will be able to utilize this institution for the enhancement of capacity-building in Balochistan.
JWT: What, in your opinion, are the administrative peculiarities of Balochistan?
MAK: Well, five years ago, I calculated the ratio of employees per kilometre in Balochistan; it was 0.5 person per kilometre whereas in Punjab and Sindh, it is 2 persons per kilometre. The total land mass of Balochistan is 44% of the country, so, the presence of the government is rarely felt. Before 7th NFC Award, Balochistan was getting only 5% of national revenue and its own generation is also paltry. Therefore, we cannot provide environment conducive to the rural areas. People are hesitant to go to the rural areas because there is no social life and at least for the women workforce, you have to provide housing and mess facilities. However, the outreach has increased now but it is still not at the desirable level. Once I took a training batch to Karachi by road. They asked that what I wanted them to see. I told them that I wanted to show them the vastness of Balochistan and how we can manage this vastness.
This can be positive and negative as well because here per unit delivery is 18 rupees and I can prove it that we are contributing 7% to 8% to the national GDP. Then there are 112 corporations in Pakistan and none has its head office in Balochistan. Only I.I. Chundrigar Road in Karachi has a workforce higher than that of the Balochistan government and the Sheikhupura-Gujranwala road industrial zone generates more income and employment opportunities than the Balochistan.
So, we neither have private sector nor the industry to eradicate unemployment from Balochistan. Then we have grave law and order issues but its ultimate cause is, again, unemployment. I can tell you that total number of able-bodied youth is not even 200,000 in Balochistan and that is highly manageable. If the government cannot employ them, then there should be an economic activity where they can earn their livelihoods. So, these are the facts but unfortunately we are the nation of hypocrites because we try to hide the facts and realities. I may be termed as a hardliner after saying this if the US had not showered missiles on Afghanistan, and had this money invested in the development of human resource and physical structures there, then today Mullah Umer would have not been a problem for them. Balochistan can be very easy to handle but simultaneously very difficult to manage but option lies with the managers how they want to manage it.