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Philanthropic Pakistan: Are we spending the charity right?


Uzair Salman |

In taking to charity, Pakistani citizens’ share in its GDP is more than Canada and the UK’s citizens’ contribution to theirs. As per a report of the Ministry of Information and broadcasting, the annual charity—a gigantic amount of Rs 550 billion—handed out by the Pakistanis constitutes 2pc of its GDP—while that of Canada and the United Kingdom constitute 1.2pc and 1.3pc respectively (though not mentioned in the report). This 2pc is double of what India gives to those in need as a percentage of its GDP.

The prospects seem promising and encouraging but to decide how much of it goes to secure hands remains as obscure a matter as the sky on a cloudy day. The same report posits that only 48pc of the multitude who give charity are wholly cognisant of where their money is used. Out of the remaining 52pc, 26pc are in part cognisant, while the remaining 26pc are, regrettably, completely incognisant of what hands their money goes to—and given the whopping amount of charity given out annually, this figure holds the potential of setting the alarm bells ringing.

The students, without running a background check, succumb and empty their pockets. It’s one thing to sympathise with and help those in need, but another to thoughtlessly fall in their traps.

Juxtaposition and conviction are two of the more important things necessary to attract huge amounts of money in charity. Given ours being a by and large religious society, mosques, and madrassahs enjoy this privilege more than the rest wanting it. It is observed that people find themselves more at ease when they give money to religious seminaries and mosques than when they are asked to give it to a welfare organisation.

One reason could be the use of religion in places where people effortlessly hand out their hard-earned money. They are repetitively told how they will be rewarded for their donations in this life and in the hereafter, to which they can’t help but surrender, with little knowledge of what activities will be carried through afterwards with the help of their money.

The recent trends in mosques sound pleasing. The Imams of most of them have displayed posters barring any individual or organisation from asking the public for donations thereby blocking one of the few—some would say many—ways for the jihadi organisations and the nowhere-to-be-seen madrassahs to get their funds from. Be that as it may, it’s far from enough, and there’s a whole lot left to be done with regard to it.

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One issue that is scarcely written about and paid heed to is that of a lion’s share of the departments of KP’s biggest public-sector university, University of Peshawar, being unmanned, and for a person, be it needy or otherwise, to go there and ask for donations being not so unproblematic a task to undertake. The students, without running a background check, succumb and empty their pockets. It’s one thing to sympathise with and help those in need, but another to thoughtlessly fall in their traps. Something, as promptly as possible, needs to be done with regard to it. The image of an educational institution ought to remain like one and not be depreciated.

The issue in Pakistan, unlike in myriad other countries, isn’t that people don’t donate. They do, and as the figures mentioned in the first paragraph depict, they do so plentifully. Yet there is, much to a lot of people’s surprise, much confusions that loom large. Taking advantage of people’s generosity are the extremist organisations that, using striking and sympathetic shibboleths, make people fall into their honey traps.

The fact that it recognises the importance of each and every penny not being laid to waste and used to achieve detrimental ends is satisfying. In words simpler, the Ministry is trying to make philanthropy work—the need of the hour.

Upon hearing how huge an amount us Pakistanis hand out in charity, one might expect an increment in the number of people living above the poverty line. In lieu, the contrary to it is happening with nearly 24pc people living below the poverty line. This, albeit sounding very orthogonal a matter, does raise queries.

Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has set about letting people know how the very money they give out in charity can be used against them, and that, resultantly, in so doing, how watchful they need to be, what consequences can their being careless possibly have, and so on and so forth. The fact that it recognises the importance of each and every penny not being laid to waste and used to achieve detrimental ends is satisfying. In words simpler, the Ministry is trying to make philanthropy work—the need of the hour.

That said, it’s far from enough. Our responsibility, as responsible citizens, is that we take it upon ourselves to ascertain that we aren’t straightforwardly gotten the better of, our emotions aren’t played with, and our generosity not taken unjustifiable advantage of. There are many out there in dire need of our money, and we ought to make sure that we give it to the rightful ones.

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But, candidly speaking, it isn’t always money that the deprived ask for. Laughter, love, and compassion are the kinds of charity we fully undermine. We, more often than not, don’t need to be given or lent money in times we are broke. A few words of hope, optimism do us better than money ever can.

We need to understand, sooner or later, that charity shouldn’t always be about money, but also about offering a helping hand, a pat on the back, a grin, conservation, good time spent. Being well-off is not the only criteria for being a philanthropist. There are many other ways one can be one, and this needs propagation.

Read more: Hafiz Saeed free to do charity work

Finally, our curricula lack philanthropy, and its high time ear was given to it.

Uzair Salman is a research officer at Emerging Policymakers’ Institute (EPI)—an Islamabad based youth-led think tank. He can be reached at uzzzair1@gmail.com. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s Editorial Policy. 

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