The beginning of 90’s is of paramount significance in the history of HR in Pakistan. During this decade HR came under the spot light and started gaining prominent place in the corporate world of the country. The credit goes to the gurus of HR. It would not be wrong to call them super heroes, as they are the ones who put vigor for bringing the HR in prominence out of the obscurity. Although HR has met many milestones since its inception it still remains an embryonic discipline in the country. Academia, practitioners, industry and government all may be equally blamed for its slow growth. Due to its growth at a snail’s pace, HR remains fail to reach at its expected destination. For this major reason the government sector seems to be custodian of the erstwhile HR practices. The private sector on the other hand, adheres to the HR best practices which are being coined and practiced in the Anglo Saxon countries. This leads towards many problems which can be witnessed in the organizations of both sectors.
First the recruitment and promotion practices being exercised in the government sector organizations are discussed. The Government of India Act 1935 introduced the ‘quota system’ during the British rule; it is still in practice in Pakistan. According to the essence of this system the province which has a larger population will gain more share of jobs. Therefore, the number of inhabitants of Punjab in the civil and military services, is higher than other provinces. It concentrates power in hands of the people of one province. According to Act No, LXXI 1973 of the ‘Pakistan Civil Servants Act 1973’, the appointing authority for civil servants above than BPS 20 is Prime minister. This law gives unlimited authority to the prime minister for choosing people of his choice at the higher posts, instead of those who are eligible. In a very same fashion Establishment secretaries, Federal/ Provincial secretaries, Deputy Secretaries and departmental heads are authorized to make appointments. It gives rise to nepotism and cronyism. Another system of recruitment of civil services employees is through competitive examination. The Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC) conducts a competitive examination called Central Superior Services (CSS) examination. FPSC rules are based on the Government of India Act 1935. This is a fair system of recruiting officials as it is based on merit.
Part II of ACT No. LXXI 1973 of the ‘Pakistan Civil Servants Act 1973’ addresses matters of promotions. The ‘Departmental Promotion Committees’ and the ‘Central Selection Board’ deal with promotion matters. This leaves minimum room for merit/performance based promotions, since political and ethnic considerations are kept in mind while making promotions. Another rule for promotion is seniority, according to which, officers who have more length of service are given preference over those who have short period of service hen it comes to promotions. The Annual Confidential Report (ACR) is the system which is followed for performance evaluation in government sector. It is a close ended method of performance evaluation by the senior officers. It gives authority to senior officers to endorse or declare unfit their junior officers for promotion. Nepotism, favoritism, concentration of authority in the hands of power elites are norms in the government sector organizations. All of these unfair and unjust practices give rise to corruption and mismanagement. The political party that comes into power, recruits and gives undue promotions to its supporters. This has put enormous burden on the public spending.
It is a fact that the practices of the government sector influence the private sector too, as the latter has to deal with the former. Thus, influence is obvious and Pakistan is no exception to this reality. Favoritism, corruption, connection, top down management and other discriminatory employment practices may be witnessed in the private sector. Albeit, Anglo Saxon HR practices are regarded as benchmark and are claimed to be practiced in, still many malpractices can be observed. It is very common to use connections in organizations for recruitment and promotion. This reduces the room for merit-based recruitment. Flattery (sycophancy) is another trait which Pakistanis have inherited from the court system of Muslim rulers, which was afterwards strengthened by their colonial masters. This thing enables flatterers to take undue advantages from senior management which leaves less room for talented people to come forward and it affects the application of good HR practices. High power distance may be witnessed in private sector organizations, which leads towards slow decision making and concentration of power in the hands of higher management. It strengthens the authority of senior managers and creates an environment of un-equality in organizations. The performance of employees is directly affected where there is high power distance; negative trends in terms of performance are usually observed. A Bureaucratic model of management is commonly practiced. This gives rise to the creation of a ‘powerful class’ and a ‘powerless class’.
The Above stated facts portray a grim picture about the situation of HR in Pakistan. There are number of reasons which are responsible for the slow growth of HR in the country. Albeit, HR has traveled a long way but a gigantic amount of work is required in order to reap sweet fruits of this discipline. Government and private sectors have to play their respective roles for the development and growth of HR.