In the past few days, two factions within Balochistan’s bureaucracy have been involved in a blame game, accusing each other of opportunism. And what’s the cause of this conflict? Well, you guessed it right – the field posts.
A group of Assistant Commissioners, Deputy Commissioners, and other BCS servants gathered at the Secretariat to protest against recent reforms introduced by the Qudoos Administration. During the final days of the Qudoos Administration’s tenure, a decision was made to merge these services under the Provincial Management Services (PMS). This move allowed officers from both BCS and BSS to serve in the field. While there was an acknowledgment of the positive aspect of introducing PMS, the protesting group argued that the merger contradicted the orders of the Supreme Court. On the other hand, the BSS servants referred to the protesters as opportunists who resisted reforms and were against the implementation of PMS.
Simultaneous press conferences were held by some officers from both groups, with each side blaming the other and claiming the illegality of various actions. This controversy has sparked confusion, leaving people uncertain about whose claims of legality and illegality are accurate. The situation escalated as some officers began sharing statements on social media platforms, further intensifying the division within the bureaucracy.
The bureaucracy should ideally function as a competent apparatus, serving as the backbone of the state, especially in Balochistan’s case where the bureaucracy essentially represents the state itself. However, the reality is different, with the bureaucracy being perceived both by those in service and by outsiders as a tool for political dominance. Instead, the competent apparatus should embody a model focused on protection and security. These terms, though frequently mentioned in bureaucratic statements, are often just symbolic rather than truly implemented.
A significant misconception exists among both the general public and those in positions of power that power is concentrated within specific groups or factions within the bureaucratic structure. However, if we examine Michel Foucault’s perspective on power, he argues that power is pervasive and originates from various sources. This concept aligns with the interplay between power and knowledge. While comprehending Foucault’s ideas requires in-depth exploration of his works, in simple terms, power is shaped through scientific understanding and forms of knowledge.
Balochistan’s political offices have earned a reputation for being occupied by individuals with limited competence. This puts an additional burden on the already strained bureaucracy, requiring them to manage not only their own responsibilities but also those of their ministers. Engaging in disputes over postings in such a situation will only exacerbate the governance crisis within the province and potentially push society further toward dysfunctionality.
The bureaucracy of Balochistan, which faces resource constraints and limitations on its authority, should operate based on the principle of transcending traditional mechanisms. Rather than adhering to the efficiency model that reinforces existing disciplinary power structures, the bureaucracy should strive for a more progressive approach that benefits a broader segment of society, instead of benefiting a specific class within the system.
However, the ongoing situation within the Balochistan bureaucracy, characterized by infighting and derogatory remarks, prompts doubts about its status as a “competent apparatus.” Another significant question arises: are these officers truly reflecting the viewpoints of all civil servants within their respective groups? If this is not the case, then their senior officials should step forward to address and resolve this emerging administrative crisis.