Political turmoil, economic disorder, scarcity of energy resources and no doubt above all the ever growing population; the developing countries have their own particular problems throughout the world. All these problems join hand together and ultimately create sky-kissing hurdles in the way to stability and prosperity of these countries. In such a hazardous situation the nongovernmental organizations, NGOs, have to share the burden of responsibility with the concerning government. The role of NGOs can never be overlooked and ignored in any developing country. Some people call these organizations the non-state actors and some call them ‘helping hands’. In Pakistan, it is difficult to estimate the total number of NGOs working in different fields, only rough estimates are possible. In a publication of UNDP in 2001, the total number suggested was about 8,000 to 16,000. If non-registered NGOs are added to the registered one, the total could rise to 35,000. In the last two decades the role of NGOs in Pakistan has increased to such an extant that most of the times they are in a position of acting as pressure groups even in policy matters. From the world known Mukhtaran Mai case to the lawyers movement and from helping the internally displaced people of Swat to the release of Indian terrorist Kashmir Singh, we find so many NGO’s, sympathizing and comforting the wretched ,troubled and distressed people of Pakistan. Most of the NGOs in Pakistan are so much sincere and honest to their cause and aim that people have unshaken confidence in them. Every year different NGOs are donated in form of cash and coin including zakat.The Edhi Welfare Trust , the Cheepa Trust ,the Fatmid, the Sahara Trust, the Roshni, the Agha Khan Trust, the Shaukat Khanum Trust and so many other organizations are doing their best for the people of Pakistan. Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan claims to be a political party but its services as an NGO are more appreciated than its role as a political party. It would be very unfair if we don’t mention the name of Al-Rasheed Trust which was banned a few years back. In short all these organizations are doing a lot for the people of Pakistan but darkness always travels along with light, day and night goes together, hope and hopelessness can never be separated; same is the case with NGOs in Pakistan. In the crowd of these non governmental organizations, there are some masked faces who very cunningly try to conceal themselves and achieve their hidden objectives. There are countless NGOs who apparently work for the betterment of the people of Pakistan but they have an agenda of their own which is guided and directed by the forces unkind to Pakistan.
It is a very common complaint with reference to the people of Pakistan that some of the NGOs which claim to keep an eye on the human rights violation in Pakistan never look at the things in an impartial way. They raise their voices when some of the terrorist are caught red handed and detained by the security forces in the tribal areas of Pakistan but they never show any concern when the soldier of the Pakistan Army and other security agencies are cruelly slaughtered by those terrorists. These organizations are always eager to help out the arrested Indian terrorists involved in bomb blasts and other heinous activities in Pakistan and sending them back to their homes in an honorable way but they never reflect any feeling of sorrow when they see hundreds of innocent Pakistanis rottening in the Indian jails. A large number of Pakistani prisoners in Indian jails have been languishing for years and years together. Pakistan Foreign Office revealed in a report that more than 2,657 Indian prisoners have been released from Pakistani jails in last few years while in response to this kindness some 827 Pakistani nationals were freed from Indian jails out of thousands of innocent prisoners. The Foreign Office disclosed that there are still 450 Pakistani people in waiting for justice in Indian jails. Unfortunately such NGOs are never concerned and worried about them.
The situation becomes more painful when such organizations become the mouth piece of the countries which never wish to see Pakistan peaceful and prosperous. They start uttering the script designed by some foreign masters. Here is an extract from the Global Research which very clearly highlights the working of such type of NGOs in Pakistan, “Some of the European- and American-funded Pakistani NGOs have taken a temporary leave from their real work to serve as a makeshift anti-government mobilization machine. Students are being recruited and organized into a street movement. The work is ongoing and urban Pakistani students are being cultivated, especially using popular Internet Web sites and ‘online hangouts’. The people behind all such effort are mostly unknown and faceless, limiting themselves to organizing sporadic, small student gatherings in the major cities like Lahore and Islamabad, complete with banners, placards and little babies with arm bands for maximum media effect.” Same type of comments about various NGOs and the people running them can be easily traced on different web pages. Some of these comments are very close to reality and some of them are confusing and misguiding.
The Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan Asma Jahangir is one of the very popular figures with reference to her struggle against the human rights violation but the international media has always been calling her honesty in question. It is a very common feeling that this respected and honorable lady has been allegedly working on some foreign agenda. This feeling about her might be the result of her statements which usually do not tally with the policies of the government of Pakistan and the emotions and passions people of Pakistan or on the basis of her frequent visits to India. Peeping through the Indian media, one always finds her criticizing the armed forces of Pakistan and even the newly established political set up in Pakistan. The pages of the Telegraph Weekly, the Times of India, The Hindustan Times and so many other Indian newspapers are replete with the ‘valuable’ statements of this well-known and honorable social worker of Pakistan. She has earned a lot of popularity in India on the basis of her pinching statements regarding Pakistan’s struggle against the menace of terrorism. It seems her hobby to accuse the armed forces of Pakistan for extra-judicial killings in Swat valley. In one of her statements she alleged that more than 100 bodies have been found dumped in the streets of towns and villages in Swat. Not only she tries to defame the integrity and honesty of the armed forces but also tries to instigate Balochistan people while claiming that Balochistan was given 14 seats against the 14 percent population of the country while FATA having 2.5 of the country’s total population was given 12 seats. As reported by an Indian newspaper, in one of her statements she commented the Balochistan Package announced by the present political government in a very ironical tone. She said “Recently there has been some development work in Balochistan, but it has not been carried out according to the wishes of the people of Balochistan, and the only set of people benefiting from the work are the Pakistan Army.”
Respected Asma Jahangir is no doubt a very highly qualified highly educated and highly esteemed lady. She has a charismatic personality with so many identities. She is not only a lawyer but also a thinker, a writer and a very kind type of social worker running a very helpful NGO. It would be nothing but partial injustice if her integrity is called in question just on the basis of her statements published by the Indian newspapers. She is a true patriot and like every patriot she would be surely aware of the reality that a child never loves his mother because of her physical or apparent beauty; it is only the warmth of affection which never lets a child go out of the mother’s lap. Asma Jahangir would be aware of the fact that unluckiest are those who go against their mothers and it would also be in her knowledge that motherland is the name of a paradise on earth. The only thing she requires is to keep her at a safe distance from the Indian media and the Indian people because a man is known by the company he keeps.
The writer is a Pakistan based bilingual analyst on strategic and defense affairs.