Running the gauntlet or ministering bureaucracy
So we got this minister at health, an almost fortyish cherub, from the midwaters of District Sawabi. All groomed at culture and schooling and the fashions and with a degree or two from the United Kingdom and so. He came with a history of independent grassroots social and charitable work, Robinish, with dedicated, committed and sophisticated family political roots at par with any such national scion. Such a life had demanded wide and deep interactions with administrative bureaucracies. Anyways, maturing local political momentum during the 2013 election year deservedly landed his independent party (AJIP: People's Democratic Union Party) in the provincial legislature that had a need and room for a coalition government with the wave of the Pakistan Movement for Justice party (PTI: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf) overtaking Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and rocking the nation. Their vision was for improving delivery to a people deprived of good standards of services through fduciary holders having great potential for what they had long ago made a covenant with through their professions. He gained captaincy of the health ministry in 2014, a nationally devolved unit to the provinces in 2012.
Supported by a mission, target and voters to help the services and public equitably with quality healthcare availability in matching quantities, across the board and the beautifully varied landscape of the famed Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. He embarked on this formidable task an year in to the current five year mandate of governance. I remember his statement at one of his earliest conferences claiming urgency of the noble opportunity at hand to the departmental stewards and line managers present. However, soon and as expected events showed the classical bureaucratic outmanoeuvrings for control of democratic constitutional authorities. At one event it became so mutinous that the steward unilaterally declared his plans in contradistinction to his Captain's vision and way short thereof, a blatant and open attempted murder of a government manifesto and mandate. Riddled with innumerable such outrageous potshots and gross resistance to undermine and bend constitutional authority by the infamous bureaucracy, the man persevered and insisted on improving delivery of amiable services amicably to the people of KP.
Four leading stewards were removed from the departmental floor for inept managerial skills and mindsets to both the government and public over 24 months till the latest fifth one came in. One such gentleman had the audacity to present falsified data, another wanted his authority to supercede the minister's, still another would not process per the rules of business. Anyway, currently the fifth one is compliant yet to get the minister to eat off his hand - the core management skill of certain schools. A time came when undermining the current representative government was considered the only plausible explanation for the bureaucratic actions in vogue. It takes a strong personal character and belief in the mission elected for to so take on the civil bureaucracy's 70 year old state within the State, a fearful club of status quo promoters of personal agrandisement instead of fiduciary interest. The latter they keep at a creeping pace and the former is for leaps and bounds. All the four ousted stewards have been accommodated by their club at plush and cushy sites and authoritative roles, that has yet to stop.
The last ouster before smoother and more in tune current operations started with a simple exchange while descending a flight of stairs. I asked the Minister going ahead across a chasm of the stairwell pit as to how things were coming along at the department of health as the provincial ministry is still called due to bureaucratic reasons despite constitutional devolution some four years ago. His simple and direct reply of "I haven't seen any fruit from it!" was chilling and alarming coming from the leader of an organisation dependant on the management skills of the departmental stewards. How can a man in charge with clearly good intentions not see the fruits of his realistically simple vision with a willingness to go the extra mile. I nodded and we parted a while later for the day on a note of meeting on the morrow; knowing the workings, operations and office politics over three decades and having resolutely traversed all its corridors of power multiply over almost a decade, from carrying memos to writing them. On the morrow we sat across each other at his official desk. I laid a simple proposition as I could see no other reason for no fruit being borne, the department was not responsive to his manifest needs and I could prove it from his office over two weeks. There was a catch to it, by openly doing so the wrath of the club would seek me out in ways more devious than we together could prevent or control and so I wanted out legally once the task was concluded. He agreed and so I got the pivot being armed with a lever. During and at the end of the assignment the notion had been multiply and repeatedly proven with tracking and he lingered it to eviscerate further details possibly for his knowledge or probably to show his legislature colleagues at government the depth of the problem. I am happily on my way out as he continues on his mission and I having completed one of mine
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