css in pakistan

Written by Zuha Tiwana 11:47 am

Information about CSS in Pakistan: Examination, Grades, Groups & Pay Scales

In Pakistan, the bureaucracy serves as the backbone in running the state machinery. Thus, government jobs are the priority of the youth because of the power, job security, and benefits that come with the role. The Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC) recruits ideal candidates for these lucrative jobs majorly through the Central Superior Services exams (CSS). The author, Zuha Tiwana, provides a detailed view of the CSS process – discussing the exams, interviews, common training, and eventual allocations.

About the Author(s)

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Ms Zuha Tiwana is a psychologist, freelancer, and analyst. She can be reached at zuhatiwana@gmail.com

Historical Background

For more than nine decades, the subcontinent had been under direct British rule. History revealed that the British government replicated the structure of bureaucracy of their homeland in the subcontinent. With the birth of Pakistan in 1947, all the officers who decided to come to Pakistan formed the initial Civil Services of Pakistan (CSP). Thus Pakistan had its own Central Superior Services (CSS).

In the year 1971, CSP was reframed under Article 240 of the constitution which made it a constitutional body. The CSP has played its role since then and remains the sine qua non for the structure of the state.

Structure of the CSS in Pakistan

The Central Superior Services (CSS) recruit the ideal candidates through a structured procedure and a series of theoretical, physiological, mental and communicative assessments by experts and experienced professionals. The allocation is federal and hence feasible for all the candidates competing for the respective posts.

Occupational Groups

There are twelve occupational groups wherein successful candidates can be allocated after the completion of their recruitment process. The occupational groups have the same grade i.e BPS-17 and the same pay scale with different nature of jobs and timings.

Among these groups, the Pakistan Administrative Services (PAS), the Police Service of Pakistan PSP, and the Foreign Service of Pakistan (FSP) have the highest merit and people with higher merit are allocated the seats according to the vacancies for each province. These three groups enjoy more de facto powers and privileges of the service.

The Commerce and Trade Group (CTG)

The CTG deals in the commercial diplomacy and economic development of Pakistan. The training program includes ten months based on the Multilateral Trading System, World Trade Organization (WTO), Development Economics, and other relevant subjects taught in the academy.

The Foreign Services of Pakistan (FSP)

The FSP is as old as Pakistan is.  After graduation from the Civil Services Academy (CSA), the Foreign Service officers join the Foreign Service Academy in Islamabad for further training. The course is nine months long. The course contents are structured according to the demands of the FSP such as foreign policy, international economics, diplomatic theory and practice, international law, Pakistan’s foreign trade and international geo-politics.

Information Group (IG)

The probationers join the Information Services Academy in Islamabad in order to get specialized training in media management and public relations. The Information Group officers posted in Press Information Department (PID) work in order to clear the image of the government machinery. These officers act as a bridge between the government and the media in many ways.

Inland Revenue Service (IRS)

The specialized training program (STP) for the Inland Revenue Service (IRS) includes capacity building and refresher courses. The IRs was formally known as the Income Tax group so most of the courses comprise tax-related research. The main campus of the STP is based in Lahore. The main objective of the training is to give these CSS officers information about the income tax department, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), and other revenue systems in Pakistan.

Military Lands and Cantonments Group (MLCG)

Cantonments in Pakistan are specialized military areas that are generally administered by Cantonment Boards under the direct control of the Military Lands & Cantonments Department (MLCD) together with the Ministry of Defense, and the Government of Pakistan. The MLC Headquarters are located in Rawalpindi.

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Office Management Group (OMG)

The probationers of the Office Management Group (OMG) complete their training and then join the Secretariat Training Institute (STI) for the next six months. All OMG officers can freely join the Secretariat group after reaching the 18-grade scale. The OMG was created in 1975. A specialized training program helps the probationers to learn the important and compulsory administrative skills and capacity building techniques.

Pakistan Administrative Service (PAS)

The charm of the Pakistan Administrative Service (PAS) is its overall involvement in different facets of administration in districts and divisions. Historically, the Administrative Service has been a backbone for the pubic hierarchy in Pakistan. It is the only occupational group wherein there is a unity of ranks. The officers have greater interaction with the public and can exercise much more power than the rest of the groups and services.

Pakistan Audit and Accounts Service (PAAS)

The training period of the Pakistan Audit and Accounts Service (PAAS) is eleven months. The training is divided into three terms in which different subjects are taught. The officers are responsible to maintain accounts of the public sector organizations and are responsible to conduct audits of the same. The highest officials report to the Ministry of public accounts and the committees made for the purpose of accounts.

Pakistan Customs Service (PCS)

The Customs Group consists of three different categories of duties and taxes; Customs Duty, Central Excise Duty, and Sales Tax. Customs, Sales Tax and Excise group control the main custom duties in the country. The authorities have begun modern ways of tax collection, and an increase in the number of taxpayers has made the PCS very advantageous for the machinery of the state.

Police Service of Pakistan (PSP)

The FPSC chooses the police officers through merit for the PSP. The officers are trained in the National Police Institute of Pakistan in Islamabad. The Specialized Training Program comprises the Initial Command Course (ICC).

Postal Group (PG)

The Postal Group has been historically operated via the Pakistan Post Office since the time of British rule. After completing training in the Academy, the officers join the Islamabad Postal Staff College for specialized training, with the first post being of divisional superintendents in assigned divisions.

Railways (Commercial and Transportation) Group (RCTG)

Pakistan Railways is the backbone of transport in Pakistan.  Its headquarters are based in Lahore. Ministry of Railways controls it under a federal structure. The rail tracks have successfully connected the country. Pakistan Railways is said to be the “lifeline of the country”. The officers get their special training for six months in the Pakistan Railways Academy.

The Scope

The job in the CSS is permanent and comes with many perks. The officers exercise many powers and get plenty of privileges like housing, transport, house helps and easy access to almost all the facilities of life. After passing the written exam and clearing all the interviews and psychological assessments, the qualifiers are appointed as 17th-grade officers and promoted to grade 18 after a service of almost five years.

After serving for seven years in the 18th grade, the officer is promoted to grade 19. Grade 20 requires necessary training at the National Institute of Public Administration (NIPA) located in Karachi, Peshawar, Lahore, and Quetta. Another five-month training is mandatory to be promoted to grade 21, which is conducted at the Administrative Staff College, Lahore. The 22nd is the last grade to which an officer can be promoted.

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Information about CSS Examination

The procedure of CSS exams is a staircase in which aspirants go through a number of tests till their final selection as a CSS officer.

Eligibility for CSS

There are simple things that can’t be neglected before deciding to sit for the CSS exams. Each candidate is given three attempts to appear in the CSS exam within the age limit.

  1. Age limit. The cut off age for the CSS exams is 30.  For instance, to apply for CSS 2022, the cutoff date shall apply till 31st December 2021. Age relaxation of two years has been provided to the government servants and people with certain disabilities in some specific areas.
  2. Qualification. The minimum requirement for candidates is a Bachelor’s degree with second division in any discipline. The university must be recognized by the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan.
  3. Nationality. The candidates must be citizens of Pakistan or belong to Jammu and Kashmir.

Online Application

After checking yourself against the eligibility criteria, you must fill the online application form available on the official website of FPSC. The online application must be submitted before the closing date and hard copies with required documents must be sent to the FPSC HQ in Islamabad within the due date.

The fee for registration is Rs.2200 for each candidate. Thereafter, the FPSC uploads the roll number slips for all the aspirants online. The main documents to be attached include a copy of educational certificates, recent photographs and the bank receipt of the exam fee. Once the online application is submitted the hardcopies are mailed, the candidate is updated about the admission via text.

Written Examination

The first test for the aspirants would be the written examination based on six compulsory subjects and six optional subjects. The official document for the Revised CE syllabus 2016 has been provided by the FPSC website. Each compulsory subject carries 100 marks with a passing percentage of 40%. The optional subjects need to be passed with 33 marks.

A candidate needs to pass all the 12 subjects to qualify for the next assessment with an aggregate of 50 percent overall. Those who fail to pass the written exams are disqualified.

The compulsory subjects include:

  • English Essay
  • English Precis and Composition
  • Islamic Studies or Alternate Subject for non-Muslims

General Knowledge

  • Current Affairs
  • Pakistan Affairs
  • General Science and Ability

The three subjects of general knowledge are to be cleared by securing 120 marks collectively. All other papers require separate 40 marks to pass. The exams include objective and subjective parts. There are seven groups for optional subjects with each subject carrying equal weightage to other subjects in the group.

The subjects carrying 200 marks will be divided into two papers carrying 100 marks each. The candidate needs to select one subject from each group to make up a total of 600 marks. The optional subjects must be chosen very tactfully and according to the educational background and scoring trends.

Medical Examination

The results of the written component are announced after some months. The list is uploaded by FPSC. The failed candidates are provided with their detailed result. However, the qualified candidates have to wait for their results till the final merit. Subsequently, the successful candidates are scheduled for medical examination which examines the physiological and mental health of the candidates.

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The special candidates bearing san impaired ability are eligible for the process in general. The physically challenged people can appear in exams for only four groups: PAAS, PS, CTG and IG

Psychological Assessment

After the medical examination, a psychological assessment is taken in order to check the mental fitness, attitude, behavioral patterns, and compatibility of the aspirants for the job in the civil service of Pakistan. The results of psychological tests are merged with the interview at a later stage.

Viva Voce

The total marks for the combined psychological examination and viva are 300. Passing marks are 100. The interviews help the recruitment team to choose the ideal officers for the bureaucratic machinery. Confidence and communication skills are hallmarks of an interview. Non-Muslim candidates are not asked Islamic questions. Viva is the last step of the recruitment process.

Final Merit List

In the final merit list, the score in the written examination and viva are combined to form aggregates. If more than two individuals carry equal marks, the candidate scoring higher in viva is usually preferred in the merit list. The result can only be announced by the Federal Public Service Commission.

The commission has to respect the preferred choice of the candidates about the occupational groups. It is then followed by the allocation of candidates in different groups based on their merit numbers.

The Training Programs

After the final result, the officers are ready for the training. The training has been divided into two terms:

  1. Common Training Program (CTP)
  2. Specified Training Program (STP)

The officers are trained under CTP at the Civil Services Academy in Lahore. The training usually is nine months long in which officers are trained together irrespective of their occupational groups. Some basic subjects are taught in the academy which includes economics, public finance, government functioning, office management, NIP, computer and communication skills.

The courses are easy to learn and the officers undergo exams during the training time for regular assessment. The main goal of the CTP is to promote provincial harmony among the officers by training them together in the period of seven to ten months of CTP. After the culmination of the CTP, the officers undergo a six-month specialized training program (STP).

The academies for the occupational groups are different. In STP, the officers are taught about their specific jobs. After the completion of specialized training, the officers are posted to different division to serve the nation.

Why CSS?

The CSS is an elite cadre owing to its federal nature. The CSP is a great opportunity for developing specialized skills and improving decision-making and leadership qualities. The facilities of government residency, job security, handsome salary, medical allowances, protocol and powers, transport, security team with an ensured lifetime pension and retirement benefits make the job very attractive for aspirants.


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