The late Peter Drucker was once asked: what’s the most important decision an executive makes? Drucker simply replied: “who does what”. Yet somehow successive governments in Pakistan have either been unable to take that decision or take a wrong decision. Khan’s PTI-led government is not different.
The business of appointments and unfilled vacancies was murky from the very start of PTI’s coming to power. When most observers expected the finance secretary to be changed right after the government came in, the finance secretary was not changed despite questions over his competence. Later, both the finance minister and finance secretary were changed. The first year was also marked by unexpected delays in the appointment of the head of Federal Board of Revenue, and the change at the central bank leadership.
Since then, the chairman SECP was axed while the chairman SECP policy board was also caught in a row. In the meanwhile, the chairman Board of Investment resigned in a move which raised questions over Khan’s dream team promise. And if the VC of Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, the Planning Commission’s (PC) think tank, was hired after a delay of nearly a year, it is quite unfortunate that the important position of PC’s chief economist has also been lying vacant for nearly a year. The PC has just recently issued a new advert since they could not find the right person in the last round.
The story of treasury office, fiscal & macroeconomic coordination unit at the Q-Block, the Chief Information Officer at the FBR and other analytics team, the CEO of Pakistan Revenue Automation Limited (PRAL), the recruitment of Pakistan’s Chief Statistician and other Members of Pakistan Bureau of Statistics is the same, whereas several critical vacancies at commerce and textile are also not yet filled.
All this is in the backdrop of reshuffling among holders of political offices, where questions over the performance CM Punjab – the most important province in both political and economic terms – are being raised to a din. And now we are told that Islamabad may not be able to fill more than hundred thousand vacant posts in different ministries, divisions and subordinate organizations as the parliament is yet to clear a bill pertaining to job quota.
Part of the reason behind PTI’s failure to chose who does what is sheer lack of competent people; after all Pakistan is not exactly a bastion of talent as is popularly perceived. Another other reason was Khan’s failure to realize that competence not corruption was the country’s biggest problem. The obsession with corruption, which has admittedly tamed over the last six months, not only led to the slowing of bureaucratic decision-making but also discouraged competent people to take government positions.
To this end, and much more, PM Khan and his team would do well to read Benjamin Constant’s classic ‘Principles of politics applicable to all governments’, where he observed that “men are inclined to enthusiasm or to get drunk on certain words. Provided they repeat these words, the reality matters little to them”. (See also Is corruption Pakistan’s biggest problem? Aug 2, 2019)