Change Management in the Justice Sector of Pakistan

 Justice Sector of Pakistan


Change is equal to resistance: the outlook is true for the public sector and more so for the justice sector of Pakistan. In mathematical proportions, the increasing expectations and the decreasing patience on the part of the public are proportional to the increasing inertia and decreasing flexibility on the part of organizations and institutions in the public sector. Strangely enough, despite known characteristic energy of the public sector to upend change, it is burdened with the onus of initiating and sustaining change. Academically, the questions that beg answers are: whether the insiders or beneficiaries of a system could, or would, effect any change? Whether the intellectual element of the change has to be introduced from outside the public sector in the form of leadership and research on hitherto little understood areas of the public life? In any case, the instant write-up will try to state some of the aspects related to change management in justice sector of Pakistan, which may help excite thinking on the subject.

1. Change Management

The first aspect that needs consideration is the propensity to treat the word ‘reform’ and ‘change’ as synonymous to each other. Quintessentially, these two concepts are different in purport and implication. While ‘reform’ sets the tone for overhaul of a system or an organization, the word ‘change’ may not imply wholesale improvement of the system; the former is bombastic, the latter is practical. The Association for Project Management, UK, defines change management as:

“Change management is a structured approach to moving an organisation from the current state to the desired future state.”

For Pakistan’s public policy decision-makers, the first question is to choose between ‘reform’ and ‘change’. If they choose ‘reform’, they may do so by challenging the ‘form’ of the extant system/organizations; conversely, if they opt for ‘change’, they may do so by utilizing talents of the mortals at their disposal, without necessarily changing the ‘form’ of the organizations/system.

2. Justice Sector

In contradistinction to the term ‘social sector’, which consists of health and education, the ‘justice sector’ may comprise all the matters that affect law and order, directly or indirectly. The World Bank, in its “Justice Sector Assessments: A Handbook,” defines justice sector as:

“The institutions that are central to resolving conflicts arising over alleged violations or different interpretations of the rules that societies create to govern members’ behavior; and that, as a consequence, are central to strengthening the normative framework (laws and rules) that shapes public and private actions.”

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The ‘justice sector’ has to be dealt as an organic whole; the conventional approach of dealing with each component of this sector separately has to be reviewed. The earlier approach of introducing organizational reform like the police reform, prison reform and court-system reform has to be substituted by sectoral reform approach that looks at all the processes and components of the justice sector as interdependent and interrelated. The approach has to be followed for many a reason:

First, the ecology of justice sector cannot be changed by changing independent organizations.

Secondly, the budget allocation for the justice sector has to be measured on collective basis.

Thirdly, the leadership role of the justice sector has been assumed by the judicature due to the constitutional architecture of the constitution of Pakistan.

Fourthly, the justice sector has been treated as a subject that is provincial in nature, especially in the post-18th Constitutional Amendment era.

Fifthly, there are many common needs of the justice sector which, when dealt organizationally, lead to sporadic resource allocation and may be dealt with collectively to ensure quality and economy.

Lastly, the sectoral model can be measured in a more transparent manner as compared to organizational model.

3. Independence of Judicature

The sectoral change management approach may be opposed on the ground of independence of judiciary as enshrined in Article 175 of the Constitution of Pakistan. The ground may be valid to some extent, but independence of judiciary does not preclude cooperation and joint management. Even now, in practice, the sectoral change management approach is in vogue and the use of power of review in the writ and suo motu jurisdictions of the constitutional courts of executive authority of the state is but an example of cooperation without compromising on the independence of judiciary.

4. Specialized Decision-making

The sectoral approach towards changing the present-day justice sector may provide an opportunity and also a platform to the specialists for making decisions about things falling within their specialist domain. At present, the non-specialists decide matters by keeping the specialists fractured and unrepresented at the required decision-making levels. For example, the specialist career prosecutor general may be able to work more closely and professionally and may be more aware of the needs of his counterparts in other organizations in the justice sector as compared to non-specialist who has no interest and specialized knowledge to inform the public policy decision-making on justice sector.

Random Thoughts

No doubt, the aforesaid points are random in their articulation, but there may be some order in disorder insomuch as there is need to rethink the way the public sector, especially the justice sector, is being managed in Pakistan. The thinking must not be abstract, but constructive and practical. Perhaps, Pakistan does not have the luxury of thinking too long on the subject of dispensing justice to its citizens. It may never be too late!

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