Frontier Stations: An account of public service in Pakistan

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Frontier Stations

An account of public service in Pakistan      

Author: MR. SHAKIL DURRANI (Order of Merit Fr), Pakistan Administrative Service, 
Executive Director SOPREST
Shakil Durrani’s account is a bold and frank recollection of events spread over fifty years in service of Pakistan most of which were spent in the North West Frontier Province (now KP) and the Tribal Areas. He joined the Civil Service of Pakistan (CSP) in 1971 having topped the CSS examinations in the country which then included East Pakistan. He has served as Chief Secretary of KP, Gilgit Baltistan, AJK and Sindh, Federal Secretary apart from being Chairman of Pakistan Railways and Wapda.

In the Preface the author remembers the most edifying moment of his life was experiencing the ‘Ziarat e Mustafa”, meeting the Holy Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (may peace be upon him) in a dream. The Holy Prophet (pbuh) instructed him to pay a specified amount to the poor and this message has  remained a constant inspiration throughout his life.

The autobiography recounts the formative years spent in Convent Schools in Rawalpindi and Sialkot followed by a decade in Lawrence College (GG) and Edwardes College Peshawar and finally in the Punjab University.

The book would be of great interest for government officials, academia, think tanks, media and the general reader concerned with governance, security and development issues as it explains how most politicians in power deviated from principles of good governance. The reasons for the failings and lack of transparency in general administration, water, power, railways, environment and other sectors is pointed out. The sad events of 12th May 2007 in Karachi have been highlighted in detail. The author is pained at the neglect of the poor and weaker sections of people in Pakistan due to the greed and incompetence of politicians often in cahoots with the officials.

The chapters on the former Princely States of Swat, Chitral and Dir and the Tribal Areas (lately merged into KP) describe the people, history and the socio-political institutions in graphic detail. The neglect of these areas by successive governments has cost the country dear.  

The aficionados would find notes on the Tales from the Frontier, ‘wildlife  and shikar’ tidbits entertaining and some peculiar Pakistani traits quite amusing. Anecdotes regarding towering figures like Dr Ruth Pfau, Princess Diana, Mollie Ellis, Muhammad Ali, Princess Salima Aga Khan, Field Marshal Manekshaw, General Yahya Khan, Kirk Douglas, Ardeshir Cowasjee, Abdul Sattar Edhi and Dr Adeeb Rizvi among others would bring a smile to many faces. From the sedate words of President Ghulam Ishaq Khan, Agha Hasan Abdi and Syed Babar Ali there are interesting quips about General Fazle Haq, Maulana Bijlighar and the pretentious politicians. The amazing life stories of some ordinary people would make one marvel at their dedication.

The book ends with some verses on the author graciously written by the legendary Amir Hamza Shinwari, the foremost Pushto Sufi poet of our times.


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