Competent Authorities of Pakistan and the Source of their Incompetence

What is “Competent Authority” and how their incompetence breeds mafias:
“Competent Authority” is the code word used by bureaucracy itself to hide the name of decision maker. This is often the secretary of Ministry but may denote a committee also or some other decision maker, but the footprint of the secretary must be there in that decision. All notifications issued by ministries and decisions made by ministries use the word “competent authority”.

In my posts when I bash the bureaucracy I use this code word that they use for themselves. Security agencies, professionals and technical specialists are not typically considered part of bureaucracy.

For instance when i am criticizing NEPRA and Power division of Ministry of Energy there is no security agency in their hierarchy. Similarly Aviation Ministry is run by the “competent authority” of Secretary Aviation Division Mr Hasan Jamy. He is also the DG of CAA. He is a career bureaucrat and is not from forces. Do you know PIA is headed by an Air Marshal. But he is not “competent authority” to fire a pilot or even a peon. He can make the decision but the decision is notified by a bureaucrat. PIA is attached department of Aviation Ministry. Only secretary aviation division can issue the notification of removal of a pilot. IK is prime minister. But, he can’t fire a peon. IK can decide to fire but the competent authority is cabinet secretary who will issue the notification after completing the formalities.

The role of bureaucracy has been explored beautifully in BBC serials of “Yes Minister” and “Yes Prime Minister” and captured by the role of “Sir Humphrey” in decimating the good intentions of the Minister and also the Prime Minister. One must watch some episodes of the serial to understand what may be happening to Imran Khan in the hands of bureaucracy. See for example

The root cause of our rotten system is the constitutional corruption that has nurtured the incompetence of the “competent authority”. You see IK can not perform because these bureaucrats are simply not working. The poor IK can’t do anything because they will wait him out. See how the “competent authority” of Aviation Ministry made both the minister aviation and PM IK cut a sorry figure. That’s their power. You can’t even buy a thermos in govt unless the secretary approves it. Unfortunately managing bureaucrats requires intelligence and competence much higher than them, which IK and his team sadly lack. 

Furthermore when the authorities were established such as CAA, OGRA, NEPRA, NADRA, NCTA, NARA, FIA etc the bureaucracy manipulated the legal language of the law to have a final say by themselves. Either by placing the Secretary as Chairperson of the Board or filling the majority of the boards with their nominees. Example, Secretary Aviation Jamy is Chairman of CAA board, he is also Acting DG of CAA. And status of both CAA and PIA are only attached departments of Aviation Division.

Constitutional corruption enables them to play politicians against each other and helps them weaken the incumbent and enables them to play musical chairs with them. This was seen during 1950s,1990s, and during 2008-2018.

Furthermore, constitutional corruption enables them to play one department against another, one authority against other, and with overlapping plethora of useless departments, autonomous organizations they perpetuate their influence through maze of conflicting mafias.


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