Crumbling Bureaucracy

By Pirzada Sharf-e-Alam | December 2020


A celebrated figure in Urdu literature, Masud Mufti is best known for fiction and reportage, a blend of journalism and fiction that is based on real-life events and incidents. His latest book ‘Do Meenar’ is an eye-witness account of the rapidly deteriorating state of governance in Pakistan post-1958 vis-à-vis the country’s first 11 years, a golden period marked with good governance and dedicated leadership.

The book is in Urdu and its title ‘Do Meenar’ has frequently been used in the book as an analogy with two imaginary towers; one is that of the author’s self, now 80-years old and residing on the eighth floor of the tower, while the second tower is that of the ‘Minar-e-Pakistan’ or the Pakistan Monument now with its seventh floor under construction.

‘Do Meenar’ is a detailed reportage of different stages of the under-construction tower, describing Pakistan’s three separate periods in terms of governance and political development - from the country’s beginning in 1947 up to the present time. The book in particular covers the towers’ foundation years or, in other words, the first three decades of the country’s political history. Mufti believes the tower, despite its solid foundation, began to lean at the onset of its second decade and tilted further in the middle of the ensuing decade owing to the vested interests of the powers that be, basking in the sunshine of legalised hegemony on the basis of communal and provincial dominance.

More than a personal memoir encompassing the author’s childhood, adolescence and adulthood periods, ‘Do Meenar’ is an engaging recollection of first-hand observations and experiences supported by publicly available records together with scores of eyewitness accounts of contemporaries.

Recalling the good old days of governance in India under the British rule, Mufti aims to make the youth aware of the forgotten Muslim history and of valiant accounts of such unsung heroes as Inayatullah Khan Mashriqi, the founder of the Khaksar Tehreek. He believes that many such great people have purposefully been erased from both the collective memory and official records. He covers in depth the historical, social and political backdrops of undivided India, in which the centuries-long Hindu prejudice towards Muslims and their relentless efforts to assert hegemony ultimately led to the creation of Pakistan.

Be it Derawars, Buddhism or Sikhism, Hinduism has absorbed almost every ideology, faith or religious movement that has entered India or has sprung up from the Indian soil. Islam is the exception since it has afforded resistance to the overarching influence of Hinduism and has successfully managed to have its distinct, untainted status since its arrival in India in the early eighth century.

The rise of Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah as the propagator of the Two-Nation theory and the creation of Pakistan as a separate Muslim state is an undeniable proof of this fact. While examining all such factors in detail with evidence, the author does not rule out the role played by Divine forces in the making of the Mumlikat-e-Khudadad, a land given by God.

The author commends the role of the bureaucracy in the running of the administrative affairs of the newborn country in its initial 11-year period, which put the nation on the course of development and industrial growth that reached its peak during the presidential era of Ayub Khan from 1958 to 1969, known as the ‘Decade of Development.’

In his civil service career, the author attended many training programmes in the U.K. and was well aware of the ins and outs of complex bureaucratic processes and intricate working cultures that are predominantly followed in government dispensation. The author repetitively claims that he has been witness to the declining state of affairs both in the bureaucracy and governance. He blames the troika of Ayub Khan, Yahya Khan and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto that played with the bureaucracy to protect their vested interests in the guise of serving national objectives. For instance, cheery-picking civil servants for key state positions has been a norm in Pakistan. General Ayub Khan was particularly adept at making hand-picked appointments in bureaucracy; he went to the extent of exempting military officers from mandatory selection tests to pave their way into bureaucratic positions without hassle. To make matters worse, Ayub Khan made use of state machinery to project some civil servants to the nation as a totally ineligible, dishonest and unworthy lot to run state affairs. Such bold observations are supported by documented proofs and historical references, which make ‘Do Meenar’ a truly well-researched reference source.

The author intentionally skips many of his personal observations and life events to make them public since ‘Do Meenar’ is not an autobiography of Masud Mufti that focuses on his life, his career accomplishments, his failures, etc. A tale of a crumbling bureaucracy, the book is rather an aptly-narrated saga of the country, from its impressive beginnings to present-day disasters at all government and administrative levels.