The Central Superior Services of Pakistan (or commonly known as CSS) is the name given to a group of highly prestigious and powerful Pakistani Federal Government Departments. Recruitment to the officer’s cadre (Basic Pay Scale 17) of these services is extremely competitive and it usually takes a year to complete the written examination and the subsequent psychological tests as well as interviews.
Federal Public Service Commission of Pakistan or FPSC (https://www.fpsc.gov.pk/) is entrusted with this task and it is a general perception that it conducts the task of Competitive Examinations with full honesty. The minimum age and educational qualification for appearance in this examination is 21 years and a Bachelors (14 years of education) respectively while the maximum age limit is 28 years. According to the estimates of FPSC a total of 8,000 – 10,000 candidates apply for an appearance in its annual Competitive Examination.
On an average 5,000 – 6,000 actually appear and approximately 250-500 candidates qualify the written portion of CSS Examination. Out of these successful candidates a total of 100-150 (roughly 2% of the actual applicants) make it to this sacred corps of bureaucrats.
Currently CSS includes the following Occupational Groups.
- Pakistan Audit and Accounts Service
- Police Service of Pakistan (PSP)
- District Management Group (DMG)
- Income Tax Group (ITG)
- Customs and Excise Group (CEG)
- Foreign Service of Pakistan (FSP)
- Postal Group (PG)
- Commerce & Trade Group (CTG)
- Railways Group (RG)
- Information Group (IG)
History of Civil Services in Pakistan
The civil Bureaucracy is a colonial legacy in this part of the world. The British used to rule the native population through Indian Civil Service (ICS) and most of the officers in ICS were British themselves. It was in the early 20th Century that the Indians also started competing against the British and many Indians eventually made it to the ICS. With the partition of India in 1947, the term ‘Central Superior Services’ was used in Pakistan and the concept of All-Pakistan Services continued. The latter consisted of the Civil Service of Pakistan and the Police Service of Pakistan, whereas the Central Services included the Pakistan Foreign Service and a broad category of Finance and other services. The Finance category included the Pakistan Audit and Accounts Service, Pakistan Railway Accounts Service,Pakistan Military Accounts Service, Pakistan Taxation Service, and the Pakistan Customs and Excise Service. The Central Services other than these included the Pakistan Postal Service,Pakistan Military Land and Cantonment Service, Central Secretariat Service, and Central Information Service. Each of these services had its own cadre and composition rules, specifying the total cadre strength in terms of its number of positions.
With the Civil Services Reforms of 1973 a new system of Common Training Program or CTP was introduced and all of these occupational groups (12 at that time) were required to go through a mandatory combined training at Civil Services Academy (CSA), Lahore. The batch of officers who attended CSA in 1973 is recognized as “1st Common”. Up till 5th Common the allocation of occupational groups was done after the culmination of Common Training Program but from 6th Common onwards this task has also been assumed by FPSC. Even till this day it is an official procedure that once the Probationary Officers successfully complete their CTP then they undergo some further Specialized Training Program (STP) in their own professional academies
Armed Forces and Civil Services of Pakistan
Commissioned officers of Pakistan Army, Pakistan Air Force, and Pakistan Navy have their own quota of 10% in District Management Group (DMG), Foreign Service of Pakistan (FSP), and Police Service of Pakistan (PSP). Usually officers of Captain Rank are short listed by General Head Quarters (GHQ) and selected against this quota after the permission directly by Chief of Army Staff before interview process.
Reform of Civil Services
Despite the fact that Civil Services of Pakistan have been still running on the pattern set out by British Raj (no major change has been performed), the Musharraf government started a major reform process of it. The task was to be performed by National Commission of Government Reforms (NCGR) under the chairmanship of Dr. Ishrat Hussain, the former governor of State Bank of Pakistan. The final report that was published in September 2007 stated that four CSS cadres i.e., Pakistan Railway Service, Pakistan Postal Service, Commerce and Trade Group, and the Information Service of Pakistan, should be axed. According to the recommendation, Postal and Railway Service should be made autonomous commercial bodies, with Information Service be suspended till further notice. The report also highlighted broad changes in the examination system, with the recommendation of a personality test be made part of the selection process.