Civil servants and Covid-19

Shahidullah Shahid

Civil bureaucracy plays an important role in the national life of the country. It is a cornerstone in administrative structure of the government. It works hard for the development and progress of the country. It has proved itself as change agent in recent era. It has held the nation together and ensured its survival. So far it has played a commendable role in public policy making and its implementation. It is a credit on part of Pakistan’s bureaucracy, that it has displayed a remarkable adaptability to the changing needs and circumstances of the country. It has been willing and eager to help in the economic development of the state and the betterment of the masses.

In the wake of ongoing formidable Corona virus outbreak, different segments of society are discharging their duties to win this war at the earliest. In this regard, tremendous services of doctors, nurses and paramedics staff are being acknowledged and appreciated widely. Role of media is being applauded for creating mass awareness about Covid-19. Likewise, altruistic services of social welfare organizations are being eulogized. However, one of the key and front line battalion busy in combating novel corona virus is continuously and blatantly being sidelined. Yes, I am pointing towards active and leading role of unsung heroes, no one else but dedicated officers of district administration. Truly speaking, consistent and committed role of district administration has so far not been given due recognition and applause. And it is a bitter reality given the prevailing circumstances in this sorry state of affairs.

Unlike, Pakistan’s mainstream political parties which have miserably failed to evolve a joint strategy and missed an opportunity to rise above politics and unite to fight corona virus pandemic, the administrative officers at district level have played a premier role in the existing extraordinary situation.

To call spade a spade, everyone gets recognition at some stage — doctors, scientists, engineers, educationists, academicians, arti-sts, journalists, military m-en, sports-persons, lawyers, judges and philanthropists — but a civil servant never gets any recognition.

It is an accomplished fact that officials of district administration are the first line of response of the government in any unusual and untoward situation, and they are usually the ones facing the wrath of the general public over government action as well as inaction. Even in the current crisis, many of them have hardly any personal protective equipment yet continue to travel to areas where there have been outbreaks to manage the infection. Such is their selfless commitment that you would not find them complaining. For the time being a civil servant is ignored altogether, yet the future will tell who was on the right side of history and took the right action at the right time.

As a matter of fact, district administration has prudently mobilized limited resources available at its disposal to raise awareness among citizens to prevent themselves from corona virus. Respective officers with their teams regularly inspect arrangements for the drive. There are numerous instances as how these officers are playing with fire in the field. The SP (operations) of Mardan district as well as the SHO police station Katlang tested positive for Covid-19, which they may have contracted while trying to convince the residents of Manga village to self-quarantine. The villagers were not paying much heed to their warnings, despite the fact that the virus had spread from a single patient to as many as 89 others.

Likewise, Assistant Commissioner Sana Mahjabeen serving in Mastung (Balochistan), Additional Assistant Commissioner Hajra Sami discharging her duties in Nowshera (KPK), have been tested positive for Covid-19. Both the young civil servants have been directed to quarantine for an indefinite time. In addition, 36 years old police personnel named Faheem hailing from Charsada breathed his last on Sunday while courageously fighting against contagious Corona. As per latest news, Assistant Commissioner Kohat Mr. Furqan Ashraf has tested positive for Corona. It is worth mentioning here that it is not easy to convince an apparently healthy individual to exercise caution for the sake of other.

Similarly, when suspected patients are quarantined in a government facility, they immediately post pictures and videos complaining about inadequate facilities. The good work done by the administration is nullified in a matter of minutes through a viral video that often is not even providing accurate information but is merely an individual opinion.

Ironically, many news anchors and reporters in the media circle are criticizing indomitable role of the district administration. It is very easy to castigate in retrospect, but when the situation is unfolding it is not so feasible and straightforward to be controlled in the blink of eyes given the limited resources in the hand of civil officers combating Corona at forefront.

It is high time, the dynamic role and matchless sacrifices of officers of civil bureaucracy should be given due acknowledgement and felicitation. Those who are suffered must be given additional pay, health allowances and other incentives. It will encourage and motivate them for efficient service delivery in the field. To cut a long story short, the district administration of the country has set an unprecedented precedent given the extraordinary circumstances amidst Corona pandemic. At this critical juncture, I pay stunning honor and glowing tribute to the gallant public servants who have tested positive for Covid-19. Get well soon our unsung heroes. May Allah Almighty give you fortitude and sound health to fulfill your administrative responsibilities in the larger interest of Pakistani nation!

Twitter: @shahidullahpms