The recent Punjab Public Service Commission(PPSC) paper-leak scandal has taken the province by storm. Until now, PPSC had been an ideal institution of Punjab. Speed, efficiency and transparency were touted as the most sublime qualities of the institution. Nobody could question the so-called highly transparent system of PPSC. Despite the obvious discrepancies in the results of recent exams and resultant agitation by aspirants for reforms, the high command turned a blind eye to the matter. It even blamed candidates for not working hard and kept reciting the mantra of “Sab acha hy” (all is well). However, fortunately, the province-wide protests awakened the anti-corruption establishment from a deep slumber. They carried out a successful operation and caught black sheep of the commission red-handed. Now, the untouchable institution has become a laughing stock. The aspirants, in particular, and educated class, in general, are throwing jokes on the commission every other day. The undergoing investigation has revealed many loopholes in the much-touted “highly-stringent” system of the commission.
A low-grade data entry operator was able to break into “the highly transparent” system and sell documents with impunity. The computer containing classified information was vulnerable to unauthorized access. All the secret documents used to be typed in simple world files. Normally, such computers have an alarm system. The alarm system instantly goes off when an unauthorized USB is plugged into any computer attached to it. No such system is installed in the computers of PPSC. That means anybody can easily steal secret documents from the commission’s computers. Moreover, a rich aspirant can buy paper and perform well in the written exams. The only other phase of selection is the interview. And the interview process is purely luck or contact-based. That means an aspirant can use backstair influence to get the job. God knows, how many candidates have got jobs using unfair means.
The gang of four arrested for allegedly selling papers has confessed that it had been in this business for years. They sold papers of several jobs. It is highly likely that many institutions of the government of Punjab, including critical ones, are crowded by inept, incompetent and corrupt officers. Justice requires that the exams showing inconsistent and unexpected results or merit trends be cancelled and reconducted. This may spark new controversies, but it is the only way to provide justice to the grieving and hardworking candidates.
The chairman of the commission and the Secretary should take this scandal as a test case. They should take every step possible to make the system transparent and efficient in a true sense. All the candidates and aspirants are looking to them. Also, the culprits should be handed out exemplary punishment. Whatever the punishment be, it should act as a deterrent for the other corrupt officials working in the commission.
Author: Rana Amir Iqbal
-Writer’s view may not necessarily reflect views of the Moderate Thoughts Research Center.