Bureaucracy and Public Management Reforms: Evidence from Pakistan

Evidence from Pakistan

  • Imran Ullah Khan a PhD candidate at the Government and Public Policy Department, National Defence University, Islamabad, Pakistan
  • Shahzad Hussain, Dr Associate Professor and Head of Government and Public Policy Department, National Defence University, Islamabad, Pakistan
Keywords: bureaucracy, bureaucratic reforms, public management reforms, administrative institution, bureaucratic structure and functions


The paper examines administrative performance and public management reforms in Pakistan. The study is based on the expert opinion of the civil servants gathered via 27 semi-structured interviews. Pakistan has inherited the administrative structure from the British colonial raj. Although there have been numerous reforms aimed at improving administrative performance, none of them have been implemented adequately. The changes pursued in the first two decades were related to enhancing the administrative performance by creating an adequate structure of administrative posts and ensuring a fair remuneration system. The
first full reform package was presented in the 1970s with steps to improve the civil service performance and nationalization of significant banks and industries. The New Public Management (NPM) inspired the Pakistani government to adopt the policies of managerialism and privatization during the 1990s. The government intended to remove the status quo and privatize the public sector industries. This reform was successful only with regard to the privatization of some sectors and banks. The remaining reform programme failed mostly because of political instability, weak political will, political interference with the reform process, etc. The semi-structured interviews conducted with Pakistani civil servants tackled the public administration problems and their possible solutions. The respondents suggested that an indigenous public management model should be created. They indicated that the government should firmly support the implementation of reform measures. Civil servants should get salaries according to their expertise. There must be a well-defined and up to date performance and evaluation system able to ensure performance-based promotions, rewards, and punishments.