April 2015 was a month of momentous importance in Pakistan’s recent history with two important events; the first being the visit of Chinese President H.E. Mr Xi Jinping — his maiden to Pakistan. The visit came at a time when the South Asian region is undergoing rapid changes. On the eastern borders of Pakistan, Indo-US bonhomie — seemingly aimed at the containment of China — is increasing while on the Western side, Afghan government is in the process to hold talks with the Taliban. These developments make Sino-Pak friendship even more important to maintaining the balance of power in South Asia.
The Sino-Pak friendship which is “deeper than the deepest sea in the world, and sweeter than honey,” in the words of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was highlighted again when during Xi’s two-day visit both countries signed 51 agreements and MoUs for Pakistan-China Economic Corridor and all-round cooperation. During his memorable address to the Joint Session of the Parliament — the first by a Chinese President — the visiting dignitary assured Pakistan of every help in enhancing country’s capabilities to cope with every challenges. It is earnestly hoped that our government takes prudent measures to avail Pakistan of the opportunities of development that Xi’s visit has offered.
Second major developments this month was the revision of CSS syllabi by the FPSC — the first in almost 34 years. It seems that the FPSC has finally come out of hibernation to reform the whole process. But, are these reforms adequate? Probably not!
Jahangir’s World Times (JWT) has been consistently pleading the case for reforms in CSS. In an article “Reforming the Civil Services” published in July 2014, the Editor JWT, Mr Adeel Niaz, wrote:
“The aspirants while choosing the optional subjects run after the ‘scoring trend’. This is cancerous to their abilities and talent but no substantial efforts have been made in this regard; rather the FPSC policies prompt students to go on with it.”
He further added:
“It should be an eye-opener for FPSC that the number of candidates who opted for Geography doubled in just two years, while the same for Arabic almost quadrupled but important subjects like Political Science, Business Administration, and Literature are being ignored by most candidates.”
Moreover in editorial of November 2014 issue, by pointing out that “memorizing only a few questions and then reproducing them on paper is considered sufficient to pass the exam” the FPSC was urged that “this thinking must be discouraged.”
It’s really a great honour for us that many of the suggestions the JWT had put forward have been taken into consideration by the FPSC while revising the syllabi for CSS subjects.
However, the revision of syllabi and inclusion of new subjects is, though, highly welcome yet there still are some areas which need FPSC’s attention. For instance, for the compulsory subjects, except essay, the number of recommended books reaches 103. Is it humanly possible for a candidate to study such a huge number of books in only 9-10 months for only five papers? The case with optional subjects is even more perplexing because going through the number of recommended books for Geology (49), Political Science (47), Accountancy & Auditing (32), Journalism & Mass Communication (31), International Relations (26), Agriculture & Forestry (22), etc., is beyond human capacity.
The neglect of the subject of Law, which has been reduced to 100 marks only, is also rueful. How for a would-be civil servant, the subjects of Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics, can be more important than Law given the fact that during his whole career in Civil Service, he will be ensuring the implementation of law? Isn’t it surprising that instead of making it a compulsory subject, its worth in terms of marks, has been halved? Moreover, a much wiser step would have been the enforcement of the new policy from CSS-2017 because a huge number of candidates will be appearing in CSS-2016 for their second or last attempt. With the immediate enforcement of the revised syllabus, these aspirants have been left high and dry with no fault of theirs.
Nevertheless, the reform is a right step in the right direction. However, that should not be all as reform is an evolutionary process which should continue to fill the lacunae so that the stated objective of “aligning the subjects and syllabi for CSS Exam with emerging global trends, and for netting high talent and quality fabric for the civil service,” may be achieved.