In order to facilitate the business of the State with regard to provision of public services and Armed services, different cadres of such services have been devised to run its affairs smoothly and in the public interests. For example Central Superior Services, Provincial Management Services, Police Services, Armed Force Services, Judicial services etc. However, to assist and help the officers of the above major services groups in performance of their respective duties, certain cadres in the lower echelon are also there for which clear job description of its employees have been carved out so that every person may contribute his input within its own parameter of job description. That is why the ministerial staff, i.e. Superintendent, Private Secretary, Personal Assistant, Assistant, Senior Clerk Junior Clerk, Daftari, Qasids and Niab Qasids, is there to perform their mandatory duties as per their job description.
I would take this opportunity to spell out the criteria for the selection of above categories of staff so that the reader could be very clear about the selection, qualification and other enabling requirements.
The incumbent position of Superintendent is always filled through promotion made amongst the serving Assistants formerly in BS-11 now the incumbent posts have been upgraded to BS-14. For the Selection of Assistant there is some percent of ratio maintained as direct recruitment through Public Service Commission with graduation as basic qualification and a portion of ratio maintained by promotion amongst the serving Senior Clerks. Senior Clerk is a position which is filled out and out amongst the serving Junior Clerks. The position of Junior Clerk is filled through Departmental Selection Committee in the Establishment Department. However, there is some ratio for appointment of Junior Clerks maintained through promotion of Daftaris, the very position, which is filled through promotion amongst the staff of Qasids and Naib Qasids.
The position of Junior scale stenographer and Senior Scale Stenographer is filled through Public Service Commission directly whereas the positions of Personal Assistant and is filled amongst the serving Senior Scale Stenographers and that of Private Secretary is filled through promotion amongst the serving Personal Assistants.
Before recounting the prejudice meted out with the Stenographers, it would not be in line with justice, if their working conditions and their output is not highlighted.
Stenographer is an official whose timing is not known even to their family members. He is always engaged with the officers who usually sit late till late at night without any conveyance to go to home, without any food to eat and without any remuneration for extra work after office hours.
Since the job of an Assistant that is putting up of PUCs, noting drafting can easily be done by Stenographer hence normally the entire staff of the office leave in time and no body ask about such leaving of the staff as the officer do not feel any inconvenience in their leaving, the Stenographer besides connecting telephones, dealing with guests, preparing meeting schedules, putting up files, checking noting drafting, flagging the files and even recording the files in dak books for delivering to the other officers also draft letters and noting for the officers.
If it is ADP, or Budget, meeting or wedding ceremony typing wedding card or arrangement of marriage Halls, going to A.G. office to settle the issues of salary or G.P. fund of the officers or going to Income Tax Officer for tax return, en-cash cheques of the officers from bank or any other personal or private duty of the officers, it is the P.A. who is responsible for all these activities in addition to their official duties thanks to the clause in the job description of Stenographers which reads “ To assist the officer as he may direct”. However, if anything goes wrong in the performance of above mentioned personal duties; they are proceeded with under R.S.Os and other disciplinary proceedings the acts the stenographer does on the order of his immediate officer.
Computer is a new technology and to operate the computers only computer operators is responsible who have extra qualification in computer science to run the computers. But in each section and offices of higher officers it is the stenographer to operate the computers in M.S. Word, Excel and Power Point which is the basic duty of Computer Operator.
Here are some plus points which obliquely tilt towards the capacity, competency and ability of a Stenographer compared to other cadres of ministerial staff.
It would not be out of place to mention the additional qualification of typing and Shorthand other than the general qualification of the other cadres of Ministerial staff, for the position of Stenographer. It is an admitted fact that Shorthand is a course which can only be qualified by those individuals who have a very good command over the English language and who are competent enough as it is well known to everyone that shorthand is a language of symbols and symptoms and only those can interpret and explain these symbol who are capable and knowledgeable
At the same time, they have a very good command over computer operation including Excel, Power Point, M.S. Words etc etc which is the basic job of Computer Operators as stated above.
They have sufficient amount of exposure with the officers of DMG/OMG PMS/etc. that is why these officers are more dependant on this category of Ministerial staff than the others.
In the same process they go through files, documents, notes etc prepared right from the level of Assistant to that of the Deputy Secretary, Additional Secretary and finally Secretary of the Department, hence they remain always in the limelight and thus are capable even to perform the job of Assistant, Superintendent and Section Officer as is evident in the various departments of Civil Secretariat.
Owing to the organizational involvement of the above category of staff with the highly qualified officers they are always very disciplined and law abiding people , thanks to this attribute, they always suffered in the hands of vested interests.
In order to re-enforce the above mentioned truth regarding the capability of stenographers, I am tempted to quote the saying of Amir Syed Hussain as under:-
The Quaid is once believed to have said that Pakistan was made by him, his private Secretary(K.H Khurshid) and his typewriter.
Again I will quote the sagacious saying of our great Quaid which were recorded in the book namely “Development Priorities of the Founding Father”:-
In March, 1944, the Quaid asked the Muslim Students at Aligarh to “ divert attention from mere clerkships. I have no objection to your becoming BAs and MAs a certain amount of general education and training is necessary. But mere degrees of BAs and MAs are of no use. Of course, there are the handicaps,. There are hardly any channel for you to go into. But while you are studying for BA and M.A. you should learn shorthand and typewriting which you can easily do. The market value of BA or MA with knowledge of shorthand and typewriting is a least three times that of a mere BA or MA. It is an admitted fact, All parise be to Allah, every stenographer is not less than MA or BA.
Let me share with you the sad saga of neglected cadre of Stenographers. The following working environment, duties and promotion chances would lead one to conclude that only discrimination and prejudice is meted out with this class of government servants.
i) A stenographer is promoted four times in the same scale i.e. in BS-15 from BS-12 encompassing the time lag of 15 to 16 years of service.
ii) Stenographers with the qualification of BA and MA, appointed in BS-12 in January 1984, are at the moment in BS-15 after rendering service of 27 years.
iii) They are in the office till late at evening and night as their officers are normally remain present in their offices till late after office hours but no overtime, lunch or pick and drop is provided to them.
iv) In the absence of Clerk or Assistant stenographer performs the duties of this cadre of Government Servants but taking dictation in shorthand and typing them out is out of the competence of Junior Clerk and Assistants.
v) The promotion of the Stenographer is lizard slow compared to the promotion of the staff of other Ministerial Cadre.
vi) Being a separate cadre this cadre is mixed with the other cadre of Ministerial Staff for the purpose of promotion. It is such an example that you mix the seniority of advocates and doctor jointly.
vii) During promotion to the post of Section Officer amongst the staff of Private Secretaries and Superintendent whose seniority falls upon the same date same time but instead of taking into consideration the age of Superintendent or Private Secretary that is to say whosoever is older should be promoted, the Superintendent is promoted irrespective of the considering the important rule e.g. promotion of the individual who is older in age.
viii) It is any irony of fate that the person who is appointed for the specific job of computer i.e. computer Operator is paid Computer Allowance but the person that is Stenographer whose job is not to operate and run the computer but he does this better than computer operator is denied this allowance.
ix) He always remains under pressure due to workload of immediate nature from the higher officers but no appreciation from the officers is there to at least, emotionally console the stenographers.
x) If he comes a bit late, leave a bit earlier rules and clauses are there to apply upon them but no matter if the holder of other cadre of Ministerial staff does this goes with full immunity.
xi) Due to above mentioned reasons and facts a stenographer either gets retired in BS-15 or 16 and in rare cases in BS-17.
In order to dispense with justice and mete out the treatment for which this class of Government servants is deserved, I shall request the individuals who are in the helm of a position through which they can dispense justice to this class of government servants, to come forward and help this class out. This benign action to relieve this class of the discrimination, will be remembered for a long time to come.