Central Superior Services

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The Central Superior Services (CSS; or Bureaucracy) is a permanent elite bureaucratic authority, and the civil service that is responsible for running the civilian bureaucratic operations and government secretariats and directorates of the Cabinet of Pakistan.[1] The Prime Minister is the final authority on all matters regarding the civil service.

The civil service defined itself as "key wheels on which the entire engine of the state has to move."[1] Derived from the colonial legacy of the former Indian Civil Service, the civil service came into its modern formation immediately after the establishment of Pakistan as a "Civil Service of Pakistan".[2] During its time of formation, the bureaucracy produced Ghulam Ishaq Khan who would go on to become the President of Pakistan. It had influence on many of the state's defence, internal, foreign and financial policies.[3] In 1971, it was re-organized and reestablished under "Chapter I: Part-XII, Article 240" of the Constitution of Pakistan which gave it foundation and constitutional status.[4] The civil bureaucracy closely collaborated with the military establishments of Pakistani Armed Forces in issues concerning the national security.[2] The bureaucracy consists of 12 directorates that provide vital office and secretariat related duties to the Government of Pakistan.[5] The provincial bureaucracies are headed by the respective Chief Secretaries of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, Punjab and Balochistan. The highest attainable rank for an officer who serves in the country's bureaucracy is BPS-22 grade.

The most influential civil servants belong to the Pakistan Administrative Service and the highest-ranking civil service positions are the federal secretaries and provinical chief secretaries

The Civil Service of Pakistan selects only 7.5% of the applicants by merit, education, qualification and experience[6] while the 92.5% are selected by a quota system. The civil service exams are competitive[1] and provides equal opportunities to males and females, depending on their qualifications.[7] The CSS Examinations are held at the start of every year. The exams are conducted and supervised by the Federal Public Service Commission.[7] CSS exams have a reputation of a very low pass percentage, in 2015, only 3% of the 12,176 participants cleared the multi-staged exam.[8]

Constitutional structure[edit]

The Constitution of Pakistan lays down separate services for the central government and the provincial governments. Although, both types of the governments are required to regulate their civil services through the "Article 240 of Chapter I of Part XII", in case of the central reservation of the government and by the provisional assembly decrees for officers subjected in legislative list of the provinces. The idea of civil service was established by the British Empire during the colonial period of the British Indian Empire.[citation needed] It was derived into as "Pakistan Civil Service" in 1947 and reorganised and re-established into its modern form in 1973. The Constitution of Pakistan describes the constitutional status as below:

Appointment to service of Pakistan and conditions of service: (a) in the case of the civil services of the Federation, posts in connection with the affairs of the Federation and Civil Services by the Parliament).
(b) in the case of the services of a provinces, the posts in connection with the affairs of the provinces, by act of the Provincial Assembly.
Existing rules: All rules and orders in force immediately before the commencing day shall, so far as consistent with the provisions of the Constitution.
Public Service Commission: The Parliament in relation to the affairs of the Federation, and the Provincial Assemblies of the Provinces in relation to affairs of the Provinces, may, by law, provide for the establishment and constitution of a Public Service Commission.

— Part XII: Chapter 1: Services and Miscellaneous [Article 240–242], source[4]

Naming convention[edit]

The Constitution of Pakistan does not set the legal name for the civil service and there is no service named as "Central Superior Services of Pakistan" (or CSS).[9] The constitution allowed the government appointed officer and chairman of the Federal Public Service Commission of Pakistan to choose the name.[9] The term "CSS" emerged during the first public examination of the civil service for the appointment on posts at officer entry level in the occupational groups of All-Pakistan Unified Group (APUG).[9] The Federal Public Service Commission holds the combine competitive exam annually under the title advertised as exam for "Central Superior Services"— the term of colonial days which survived reforms.[9] Similarly, the use of word "Central" instead of that "Federal"; as well as the term "Superior" are also the legacy of the past.[9] These were relevant when there was central government under 1956 constitution and classes existed in the civil service.[9] The 1973 constitution abolished all classes in the civil service as the concept of occupational groups was introduced.[9]


Following the foundations laid in the Constitution, the federal government promulgated The Civil Servants Act, 1973 and each province enacted its own Civil Servants Acts. The law allows civil service of federation, and of provinces, to be regulated as per rules notified under these enactments. Consequently, both sets of governments have notified Civil Servants (Appointment, Transfer and Promotion) Rules, 1974. The qualification and method (the way) of filling of all posts is regulated by these rules. The posts at initial officer level i.e. BS-17, are classified to be filled by way of promotion or transfer and by direct recruitment under share fixed for each category. The recommendation for appointment in BS-17, under direct recruitment share, is done by Federal Public Service Commission, which is established under its own law as a requirement of the Constitution. The rest of posts reserved for departmental officers under promotion quota and posts under appointment by transfer is confined for officers inducted through lateral entry or for hardship cases coming from surplus pool. In practical terms, those appointed on posts in direct appointment quota in each occupational groups through CCS Exam have natural advantage. They join service at young age as compared to departmental officers, and therefore reach to the highest slots. Since the number of direct officers at entry level are few but their quotas in posts in BS-18 to BS-22 are fixed on the higher side, therefore their promotions are fast paced. These arrangements makes the civil service attractive for talented individuals and instill sense of superiority and pride. Currently, CSS exams conducted by Federal Public Service Commission include the following Occupational Groups.

  1. Pakistan Customs Services[10]
  2. Pakistan Administrative Service[11]
  3. Police Service of Pakistan[12]
  4. Foreign Service of Pakistan[13]
  5. Inland Revenue Service of Pakistan[14]
  6. Commerce & Trade Group[15]
  7. Information Services of Pakistan[16]
  8. Military Lands & Cantonment Group[17]
  9. Office Management and Secretariat Group[17]
  10. Pakistan Audit and Accounts Service[18]
  11. Postal Group[19]
  12. Railways (Commercial & Transport) Group[16]

History of civil services in Pakistan[edit]

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 time the independence of Pakistan 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 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, Lahore. The batch of officers who attended the Civil Service Academy in 1973 is recognised 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 Federal Public Service Commission. Even till this day it is an official procedure that once the Probationary Officers successfully complete their common training program then they undergo some further Specialized Training Program (STP) in their own professional academies.

Pakistan Administrative Service[edit]

The Pakistan Administrative Service, previously known as the District Management Group before 1 June 2012, is a cadre of the Civil Service of Pakistan.[20] The Pakistan Administrative Service over the years has emerged as the most consolidated and developed civil institution, with the senior Pakistan Administrative Service officers of grade 22 often seen as stronger than the government ministers. The service of Pakistan Administrative Service is very versatile in nature and officers are assigned to different departments all across Pakistan during the course of their careers. Almost all of the country's high profile bureaucratic positions such as the federal secretaries, the provincial chief secretaries and chairmen of top-heavy organisations like the National Highway Authority, Trading Corporation of Pakistan and State Life Insurance Corporation usually belong to the elite Pakistan Administrative Service.[21][22] Office Management Group/Secreteriat Group is the only other group that competes with Pakistan Administrative Service in terms of roles and responsibilities.

Armed forces and civil services of Pakistan[edit]

Commissioned officers of Pakistan Army, Pakistan Air Force and Pakistan Navy have their own quota of 10% in all service groups of the Central Superior Services but historically they have only joined the Pakistan Administrative Service (previously known as the District Management Group), Office Management Group, Foreign Service of Pakistan, and Police Service of Pakistan. Usually officers who join the civil services are of the rank of Captain / Lieutenant / Flight Lieutenant (equivalent to BPS-17 grade).[23] Rank are short listed by respective Services Headquarters and selected against this quota after interview process. The interviews are conducted by a committee headed by the Chairman of the Federal Public Service Commission, same as in the case for regular candidates. Only the written exam is waived.

Reform of civil services[edit]

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, Commerce and Trade and Information Services 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.[24]

2016 onwards reforms[edit]

The civil services reforms have been under consideration and the Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Ahsan Iqbal has announced that the upper age limit would be increased up-to 30 years instead of 28, for taking the Central Superior Services (CSS) examination from 2017 onwards.;[25][26] where as the increase educational qualification by 14 to 16 years.[27] The CSS Aspirants collected funds from their pocket money and filed a petition in the Lahore High Court and Peshawar High court for the age relaxation.[28][29]

On August 2, 2016, the Planning Commission announced plans to restructure the examination process by dividing the Civil Superior Services (CSS) under three cluster programme comprising three categories including General, Finance and Information by abolishing the existing generalised system.[30] The plan would come into effect from 2018 and would require participants to possess a four-year bachelor's degree in a relevant discipline, for information cluster, a degree in mass communication, journalism or information science will be required, while for finance cluster a degree in economics, finance or related discipline will be required.[31][32]

On January 1, 2016, the Planning Commission began phasing out the Annual Confidential Report (ACRs) with the key performance indicators (KPIs) to determine promotions of civil servants.[33]

Recently in 2019 Prime Minister has constituted an Institutional Reforms cell (IRC) under Cabinet Division. This cell is working under the chairmanship of Ishrat Hussain. The cell is forcing Federal Departments to acquire autonomous status but the departments are resisting on multiple grounds.

CSS Examination and statistics[edit]

The CSS examination is extremely competitive ; for every one aspirant selected there are 200 who are not; in 2015, more than 36000 candidates competed for 158 post as compared to 2011 when approximately 19,000 candidates participated in the open public examination of the civil service; only 8.0% of them were qualified for 188 government jobs.[34]

CSS exams are held every year in the entire country. These are conducted by the [[Federal Public Service Commission of Pakistan, which also posts successful candidates to various departments of the civil service.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Government Officials. "Civil Service of Pakistan". Government of Pakistan. Government of Pakistan. Retrieved 5 September 2012.
  2. ^ a b c Government of Pakistan. "District Management Group". District Management Group. Archived from the original on 1 May 2011. Retrieved 5 September 2012.
  3. ^ Author. "Journey of System". Geo Television Series (Educational Directorate). Geo Documentaries. Retrieved 5 September 2012.
  4. ^ a b Constitution of Pakistan. "Part XII: Chapter 1: Services (Miscellaneous Article 240)". Constitution of Pakistan. Constitution of Pakistan. Retrieved 5 September 2012.
  5. ^ CSS. "Directorates of Civil Services". Government of Pakistan. Archived from the original on 28 August 2012. Retrieved 5 September 2012.
  6. ^ "CSS Recruitment Policy – CSS Forums". Cssforum.com.pk.
  7. ^ a b Government of Pakistan. "Eligibility and Rules of CSS". Eligibility and Rules of CSS. Archived from the original on 28 August 2012. Retrieved 5 September 2012.
  8. ^ "368 candidates pass CSS exam, 238 qualify for service - The Express Tribune". 27 April 2016. Retrieved 19 August 2016.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g Editorial and Authorship reports and summaries (February 2010). "Reforming Pakistan's civil service". Asia Report. International Crises Group. 1 (1): 11–15.
  10. ^ "Civil Service of Pakistan". Csspk.com.
  11. ^ "Civil Service of Pakistan". Csspk.com.
  12. ^ "Civil Service of Pakistan". Csspk.com.
  13. ^ "Civil Service of Pakistan". Csspk.com.
  14. ^ "Civil Service of Pakistan". Csspk.com.
  15. ^ "Civil Service of Pakistan". Csspk.com.
  16. ^ a b "Civil Service of Pakistan". Csspk.com.
  17. ^ a b "Thecssforum". Thecssforum.com.
  18. ^ "Accounts Group – Civil Service of Pakistan". Csspk.com. Archived from the original on 3 March 2007. Retrieved 22 March 2006.
  19. ^ "Civil Service of Pakistan". Csspk.com.
  20. ^ Malik Asad (25 May 2014). "Boon for PAS (Pakistan Administrative Service) angers other civil service groups". Dawn (newspaper). Retrieved 29 June 2018.
  21. ^ [citation needed]
  22. ^ "Bureaucrats call for equal representation - The Express Tribune". Tribune.com.pk. 13 September 2018.
  23. ^ "FPSC Newsletter" (PDF). FPCS. Retrieved 14 July 2015.
  24. ^ Syed Hamzah Saleem Gilani (23 February 2015). "Reforming the Civil Services of Pakistan". Daily Times Pakistan. Retrieved 2 February 2016.
  25. ^ Hassaan Ahmed (3 January 2016). "Proposed CSS reforms get nod of approval from relevant quarters". Pakistan Today. Retrieved 2 February 2016.
  26. ^ Abrar Saeed (10 September 2015). "Govt decides to modify CSS exam, training". NAWAIWAQT GROUP OF NEWSPAPERS. The Nation. Retrieved 2 February 2016.
  27. ^ Mehtab Haider (1 January 2016). "Educational qualification for CSS to be enhanced to 16 years, age limit by two years". THE NEWS INTERNATIONAL. The News. Retrieved 3 February 2016.
  28. ^ Pakistan Today (16 November 2012). "CSS age limit". Pakistan Today. Retrieved 2 February 2016.
  29. ^ Editor's Mail (19 November 2012). "Arguments in favour of age relaxation for CSS". Pakistan Today. Retrieved 2 February 2016.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  30. ^ "Govt considering to conduct CSS exams in three categories". www.thenews.com.pk. Retrieved 19 August 2016.
  31. ^ "All set for cluster-based CSS exams". www.thenews.com.pk. Retrieved 19 August 2016.
  32. ^ "Breaking News: Federal government introduces three cluster program for CSS | Dunya News". Retrieved 19 August 2016.
  33. ^ "Educational qualification for CSS to be enhanced to 16 years, age limit by two years". www.thenews.com.pk. Retrieved 19 August 2016.
  34. ^ Siddiqi, M. A. (25 April 2011). "A guide to the CSS: Want to change Pakistan? Try joining the government as an honest bureaucrat". The Express Tribune.

External links[edit]