Treachery, thy name is CSS | Pakistan Today

Treachery, thy name is CSS

  • Who’ll plug the many lacunas that inundate Pakistan’s foremost competitive exams?

Time, resources, dedication, a plethora of notes and books, countless prayers, single-minded focus, complete devotion and exceptional luck — all need to conspire in perfect harmony for a candidate to nail (or as they say ‘crack’) CSS. Thousands appear, hundreds pass, many try again, others run out of attempts or turn 30. For some life-long careers begin, for others dreams of a good life perish forever.

Every CSS aspirant aims to become an intelligent, hardworking, accomplished, diligent, risk-taking, boss pleasing genius running the affairs of the country. Well, whether they do it or not I leave to your fine judgment.

Every year when results of CSS come, an old debate gets a new lease of life. Foremost among them is that our education system is rotten to the core. Any reasonable person would concur. However, to say that that is why we are having fewer lads and lasses pass CSS written exam is most definitely not the case. I, being a first-hand witness to bureaucrats-while-they-toiled-to-become-bureaucrats and being a candidate myself, know better. Many of my cousins and friends who aspired to become bureaucrats studied and burnt midnight oil like devoted hermits. They gave up their social life, friendships, leisure, travel, hobbies, even sleep. It takes a manic to make it through. To appear in CSS is easy, anyone with a bachelor degree and 2,200 can do so. To make it through, well, is no proverbial walk in the park.

The Zeus that is all sovereign over the realm of CSS is English. Majority flunk in English, year in and year out. In our age where communication is done through acronyms and emoticons, where beliefs are broadcast and debates are summed up in 140 characters, where seven seconds (read vines) are enough to entertain us we want our engineers, doctors, lawyers to prove their expertise in flowery, archaic, Victorian English relegated to the domain of academics. Well, writing an essay on a single topic for three long hours requires all that we never teach our students.

The treachery of CSS, honourable legislators, policy-makers and idle chatters, lies in other factors like increased numbers of candidate, ‘hitting’ one particular subject, a compulsory or an optional, every year, uneven and subjective marking, and absence of fair and just recourse to those who want a reevaluation of their marks

Both Ahad Khan Cheema and Fawad Hasan Fawad are the product of one of Pakistan’s most meritorious exam

Dear reader, a decade and two back CSS used to be a realm few dared to traverse, it has now become a raffle ticket to paradise at 2,200 rupees per attempt. Jinnah Library used to be (and still is) the hub of those preparing to compete for competitive services. However, CSS academies, whose billboards carry pictures of those who nailed the exam, hell-bent to ‘satisfy’ candidates rule the roost.

Even though the recent examples of two ace bureaucrats incarcerated for past months should have deterred the young from the lows after the highs, it hasn’t.

The rise and rise and fall of two meteors and whose fall resembles that of rusty scarecrows. Ahad Khan Cheema and Fawad Hasan Fawad, two ace bureaucrats who ran the roost for the greater good of themselves and their masters. They were all in all and at times even more. They by the trick of fate are Dr Faustus whose time has come. They are Yossarian condemned to Catch-22. They are Achilles whose heel has been hit. They are Greek demigods demoted to mere, pitiable mortals. They were proud, mighty heroes everyone adored, now they’ve become Richard III whose final words were ‘A horse, a horse! My Kingdom for a horse’. Sounds like you’ve read these lines before. Well, you have, dear reader. In a land where more things change, the more they remain the same. It would be a sin to not reiterate what has been written before.

Both Ahad Khan Cheema and Fawad Hasan Fawad are the product of one of Pakistan’s most meritorious exam. A free-for-all battle of nerves where the scions of wealthy families are pitted against hardworking sons and daughters of middle and lower-middle class. The candidates from rural background with more stamina to sit-and-study for long hours compete against those from urban centres having advantage of better schooling, sharpened analytical skills and more facilities.

English, dearest sirs and ma’ams, is the Goliath endangering CSS. Now, can we summon a David to slay it and emancipate us? Widespread reforms in education sector will take billions of rupees and many decades to produce result. I suggest a totally doable, CSS-specific and much needful reform: subtract two English papers from CSS examination and see what happens.

Let me tell you what would happen. FPSC would have to interview five to six thousand candidates every year or else do what it has done with US History in CSS 2018.

Leaving many like me to gasp and utter: Treachery, thy name is CSS.