Q. A lot of people wanted us to ask you about CSS, tell us about your CSS journey?
I cleared my CSS in 2005, I studied for about one year to sit in the exam. My strategy was to learn from the best teachers in the city, get guidance from them and apart from that I used to practice past papers of the last ten years, which I feel is a very good strategy to tackle such a challenging test.
Q. Apart from academics, are there any personality traits that improved your chances of passing CSS?
In order to be successful in any field there are certain personality traits. The first trait regarding CSS is that a person should be passionate about it and the hard-work should come naturally to them. If they are not passionate about their destiny then they will not be able to go through their journey.
Second trait is self discipline with good intentions. A person who is lazy and cannot discipline their time is going to struggle in CSS.
Being positive about life, your surroundings is another important trait. I’ve witnessed some very hard-working people fail due to having a negative thought process. Negativity will put you in a lot of pressure and some people can’t handle that pressure. A person should be optimistic about his future, which will enable them to work properly.
Q. Are all CSS Officers as hard-working as you are?
CSS itself demands a lot of hard-work, but I believe not everybody is as hard-working once they come to the field, I’ve seen many people become complacent or become negative because of the surroundings. These things happen in every field, be it politics, sports, academics.
I’m sure if a person is hard-working in any field, he will become a successful person.
Q. What’s a typical day like for DC Islamabad?
The role is very tough. The majority of my time is used to meet people and deal with public. My day starts with calls at 7am in the morning. I get to the office by 9:30am and my first meeting is regarding the Covid situation in the city.
Then I hold a meeting with my officers and discuss their daily targets, and after that I always have a meeting with either National Assembly Standing Committee or Senate Standing Committee or with Public Accounts Committee and so on.
Then I spend a lot of time going into the field to check the price control, Covid control and encroachments.
In the evening I spend some time on social media, as it is very important to dedicate your time to social media and interact with the public so their complaints can be addressed online.
Q. How much time do you spend on twitter each day?
Certainly more than an hour. On Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp it’s usually around 2 hours.
Q. Is a CSS officer able to strike a healthy work-life balance?
It usually depends on your post. When you are a DC it is impossible to maintain a work-life balance. 100% of my time goes into my work. But obviously if a person is on a less complicated posting, like when I was Deputy Secretary in establishment division, my work hours were strictly 9-5, I was able to enjoy my time after office hours.
Q. Is a bureaucrat literally a ‘naukar shahi’?
I think this is a misnomer and a very sad term associated with the bureaucracy, I feel bureaucracy has changed now and a bureaucrat has to behave as a servant if they want to be successful, it is impossible for a bureaucrat now to be a ‘master of people’.
The problem is not with the civil service, I think the problem is with the society. Anybody that has some position of authority, acts as the ‘master’. This problem is in the society, which is also prevalent in the civil servants.
With the evolution of society, I feel everyone will be more transparent and answerable to the people of Pakistan.
Q. Lastly, is CSS worth it?
If a person is passionate and gets a kick out of serving the public only then CSS is worth it. But if a person wants to live a life full of luxuries, then CSS is not for them. It is only worth it for those people who genuinely want to work for their country.