Thursday, April 10, 2014

Civil Society Alliance in Pakistan: A Great Leap Forward


Pakistan’s General Elections 2013 signified many a change for the first time in our history in terms of voters registration, voters turnout, elimination of bogus voters, mandatory production of CNIC for casting votes and the overwhelming interaction of the political parties with the voters across the country. The people voted for performance of those who governed the country for the previous five years as well as the new comers who promised to deliver in the next five years. The credit goes largely to civil society activists, social media activits, and think tanks for changing the environment. The media was also largely influenced by what was happening on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Technorati, Google+ etc and made a significant contribution to the change.

So, we can now expect the new governments will perform for they know it for sure that the next elections will be tougher than the last elections and the voters will vote for performance. And that the civil society (educated and enlightened men and women) will play a crucial role in determining the success or failure of the political leaders.


Now is the time for the fragmented civil society of Pakistan comprising civil society organizations, NGOs, charities and trusts to organize itself as the first and the most influential good governance network to help solve common issues of their communities. It's always the civil society that exercises checks and balances on the state organs. Let's not fail ourselves and others who look up to us to secure a peaceful and prosperous future for the whole nation and its future generations.

Today, we are confronted with widespread corruption, nepotism, favouritism, civil and police maladministration, poor criminal justice system, dismal performance of parliamentarians, and non-enforcement of socio-economic rights granted under the Constitution of Pakistan.

As a result, we are faced with massive poverty, unemployment, hyper-inflation, power and gas load shedding, escalating fuel cost, sub-standard education and health facilities, costly air, railway and road transport, insecurity and a hopeless future for us and our future generations in general.

Good governance is the KEY to the solution of our issues for all the strata of our society for a progressive and prosperous Pakistan.


Good Governance Forum plans to form the Civil Society Alliance (CSA) comprising civil society organizations, NGOs, charities and trusts operating in Pakistan. All the CSA members will maintain their individual identity but affiliate themselves with the CSA on the common agenda of ''good governance for bringing peace, progress and prosperity to 180 millions in Pakistan.'' They will help solve key issues at the local, district, provincial and federal levels for themselves and their communities around them.

Good Governance Forum will fully support CSA through its network of 12000 members, 400 media associates, 100 newspapers as well as its news blogs, social media sites, goodwill ambassadors and advisory committees. 

Good Governance Forum has a network of advocates, businessmen, civil and police officers, diplomats, military officers, parliamentarians and politicians, professionals, NGOs and media. Good Governance Forum can raise voice and create as much noise as needed any time anywhere through lawful means for genuine local, provincial and federal issues as a part of its mission to bring good governance to Pakistan.

The affiliated CSA members will represent the CSA in their towns and cities, build up their rapport with the government agencies and help the communities in solving their common issues. 

Membership Procedure:
Eligibility for Membership: 

Any registered or unregistered civil society organization, NGO, charity and trust can join by filling-in the membership application forum appended below and emailing it to with c.c. to A scanned copy of the bank deposit slip of the membership fee of Rs 1000 is to be attached. In case a scanned copy is not possible, then particulars of the bank's name, branch name, branch code and date of deposit may please be intimated to the Good Governance Forum. Membership application will not be entertained without the bank deposit slip.

Membership Fee:

To meet the preliminary expenses of organizing the CSA and setting up its central office, we have introduced a nominal membership fee of Rs 10,000 for the first year for each civil society organization, NGO, charity and trust. Payment can be made in CASH (NO cheques please) at any branch of our bank in Pakistan for online transfer to our bank account. Details of the bank account can be obtained by emailing to

Membership Limit:

Initially, only 100 organizations will be enlisted as founding members on 
FIRST-COME- FIRST-SERVED BASIS starting from Jan 2016. 

Steering Committees:

The nominees of the member organizations (one nominee each) will be part of the concerned Provincial Steering Committee. Each Provincial Steering Committee will recommend THREE (3) members to become part of the Central Steering Committee. 

The Central Steering Committee will organize the Civil Society Alliance i.e. its constitution, registration, setting up office, election of its office bearers etc. The Central Steering Committee and the Provincial Steering Committees will be disbanded after the elected office-bearers take up their offices. Initially, the Central Secretariat will be set up in Islamabad, followed by provincial secretariates in Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar, and Quetta after the CSA is formally constituted and launched.

The Central Steering Committee and each Provincial Steering Committee will elect its honorary chairman, honorary secretary and honorary treasurer from among its members.

CSA will be a non-political, non-ethnic and non-governmental representative body of the civil society organizations, NGOs, charities and trusts operating in Pakistan. It will work under a legal framework and finance itself by the contributions of the affiliated members on no-loss, no-profit basis. It will have an organizational structure, working establishment, and office-bearers.

Let’s join hands to bring progress and prosperity to our people irrespective of their caste, creed and colour and lead the country to become an ‘Asian Tiger’ in the 21st century.

Good Governance Forum

Leading the Way to the Challenge of Change in Pakistan

The applying organization can copy-paste the Membership Application form below, fill-in the required info, and email it as attachment to All fields on the form marked (*) are mandatory. 

Civil Society Alliance
Membership Application

*Name of Organization:_______________________________________________________________________

*Mailing Address:___________________________________________________________________________

*Email Address:______________________________


*Landline No:_______________________Fax No.____________________Cell No._______________________

*Registration No:_____________________________ 

*Nature of Registration (e.g. limited company, trust, society etc)_____________________________________

*Name of Registration Authority:___________________________________



*Field of Interest (, health, poverty alleviation etc)


*Name of Chief Executive:_____________________________________

*Landline No:_____________________________________

*Cell No:_________________________________________


Application signed by:

(a) I certify that the above particulars are true to the best of my knowledge. 
(b) I confirm that we have paid non-refundable membership fee of Rs 1000 into the bank account of Good Governance Forum at Standard Chartered Bank. Scanned copy of the deposit slip is attached.
(c) I agree to the terms and conditions of Civil Society Alliance as listed at as of today.





Sunday, July 7, 2013

Civil society urges female participation in decision-making

Staff Report 

LAHORE: Speakers at the ‘National Consultation on Women Issues’ stressed that the government and semi government institutions should ensure participation of women in the formation of rehabilitation and reintegration policies about education development for females in the country.

A non-governmental organisation Shirkat Gah organised the two-day event at a local hotel. National Commission on the Status of Women chairperson Khawar Mumtaz presided over the concluding ceremony and highlighted the need for empowerment of women in Pakistan. Bhittai Social Action Watch and Oxfam Novib Pakistan also supported the conference.

Representatives of different civil society organisations, government organisations, media, police officials, relevant UN agencies and lawmakers participated.

Shunila Ruth MPA from Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Zar Ali Khan from FATA NGO Consortium, Fehmida Iqbal from UN Women, Tanveer Jahan from DCHD, Mariam Bibi from Khwendo Kor, Nighat Saeed Khan from ASR, Kishwar Sultana from Insaan Foundation, Abida Swati from Oxfam Novib, Farhat Sheikh from NDMA, Qamar Naseem from Blue Veins and Tabassum Bashir, Humaira Sheikh, Dr Tabinda Sirosh from Shirkat Gah also spoke on the occasion.

Addressing the gathering, Khawar Mumtaz stressed the need to sensitising communities to the importance of women’s access to education and strengthening laws, institutions, mechanisms and procedures for protecting the human rights of women. She said that Pakistan has experienced a dramatic rise in armed conflict, disasters and displacement with more than 24 million people displaced over the past seven years. She said that specific implications on women include changed roles, decreased mobility, psychological trauma, rape, enforced prostitution, forced sterilisation and other reproductive health issues arising from reduced access to services often resulting in abortions and miscarriages.

Fauzia Viqar, Director Advocacy and Communications of Shirkat Gah said, “Ensuring access to medical, psychosocial & referral services, local economic development opportunities and entrepreneurial education of women for rehabilitation is important.” She further stated, “Ensuring that voices of women are heard while designing and implementing rehabilitation and reintegration policy is important”.

Power and Civil Society in Pakistan

Anita M Weiss and S. Zulfiqar Gilani
Oxford Univ., 2001

This book reviewed various articles about power and authority in Pakistani society. Weiss and Gilani have gathered different perceptions about power relations, and noted a shifting pattern of power relationships in social domain. The shifting patterns of authority are because of the instability of political institutions and inefficiency of governments.
Gilani's article traced psychological explanation of existing power structures like male supremacy and paternalism. In order to understand social power in a culture, it is important to identify the psychological underpinnings of power at individual level. Gilani's argument is interestingly divergent since he views desire for social position as inherent rather than acquired. Freudian psychoanalysis has been used to support the argument, and desire of power in the later stage of life is consequent to progressive loss of power during the early stages of development. Individual sense of powerlessness is reflected in a variety of social, political and cultural expressions as they relate themselves to power figures.
Anita Weiss studied the power relations through a gender approach. Weiss argues that public and private spheres of power are interrelated. Women's subordinate position in a family is reiterated at State level. A discriminatory law against women in a society is an extension of acts of violence committed against women within their homes. To Weiss, women's social liberation is dependent to women's empowerment within their families.
Omar Asghar Khan's article states how people's disillusionment with traditional forms of political structure led to the formation of CSOs, which is an expression of cohesion and power for the people. Unfulfilled needs for welfare, relief and provision drive people to seek alternate means that is by organizing in an CSO they ensure the protection of their rights. However, Khan does not perceive CSOs as an alternate of State, because CSOs need the cooperation and patronage of State or elite, else they can not function smoothly.
This book is a distinct and palpable analysis of Pakistani society. A drift from the usual projection of an exotic image, the writers of the articles presented the Pakistani society as what it is in its contemporary state. The book contains about ten articles contributed
Writers from varied social disciplines contributed the articles in the book:
Imran Anwar Ali a professor at LUMS, Farzana Bari of Quaid I Azam university, Shahid, Javed Burki of World Bank, Syed Zulfiqar Gilani, University of Peshawer, Omar Asghar Khan, an CSO activist and founder of a non-profit organization SANGI,,Saba Gul Khattak, SDPI, Omar Noman, UNDP, Mustapha Kamal Pasha, School of International Service at American University, Lynn Renken, Mercy Corps International, Hasan Askari Rizvi, Punjab University, Anita M. Weiss, University of Oregon,

Mobilisation of civil society

April 20, 2009

Whilst trying to suggest a remedy for an ailment it is imperative that one should try to identify the causes that led to this condition...TALIBS...when Pakistan came into existence the Muslims of the subcontinent had already given assess to the influence of the fundamentalists Mula or Mulani into their homes. Since majority of the Muslim households were born Muslims? Where rituals of prayer, zakat, fasting and Eid held major sway over understanding the soul and essence of the Holy Koran. In this line up it became mandatory for every muslim child to learn and read the spara under the strict watch of the local mulla..
Most of the Muslims of the sub-continent knew their religion through the maulvi..instead of taking pains to learn the Arabic language and to understand the meaning....or to read the Koran with meaning..Unfortunately most of the maulvis who came to teach were themselves the product of a village madrassa, where again the emphasis was on Hifz rather than on understanding , contemplation and application of the Holy Koran.
Besides this most students in Madaris were orphans or children of the poor who could not afford to give their children a square meal, and these young souls were subjugated to hard ships and un natural acts by their seniors and were forced to go and collect..literally beg for the odd roti or gogi which was given or thrown to them by the local villagers..Under these circumstances one can well imagine the physce and personality of a fully blown maulana. Leave aside their lack of knowledge...the circumstances under which they were bred would create a venom in their thought process...that can only lead to hatred of the society at large , which the forces that be utilized to rally them by giving them an identity and to satiate their anger through extremism.
Over a period of time majority of Pakistani's were taught their religion by literally illiterate mullahs and at the same time let these mullahs become the guardians of the most beautiful and progressive religion of all times..These Mullahs have taken control of all the mosques spread over the length and breadth of the country and are spewing their poison through the loud speakers made available to them officially. The half learned listeners do not have the strength of knowledge or character to counter the wrong propagation of their religion.
To adds fuel to the fire....the capitalists decided to use their blind faith to counter the communists , thus this extremist element came out of the conflict tasting blood , being victorious and battle hardy....
They were used and discarded "the disposable mullah" ??? the insult combined with taste of victory made the local leaders believe that they could now conquer the world and re establish the lost glory of Islam..whether this dream took root by itself or was implanted by the powers that debatable.
The issue at hand for all Pakistan loving members of this country is to be able to define the enemy...are our Governments trusting the allies a bit too much and accepting their rhetoric at face value .out of ignorance , fear or perks and privileges..???? are the mullahs playing into the hands of their true enemy...? In a scenario like this , where there is no black or white...but various shades of becomes very difficult to discern friend from foe.
Before we look at the possibilities by which we can try to stop/contain/utilize the extremist mullah..we must not forget that this force by default may be acting as the buffer against physical aggression to our northern borders by our enemy/enemies...?and it will suit them 100% to have the talibs broken and disarmed.....????
STOPPING the onslaught of Talibs: Japan in the late 18th or early 19th century put to sword approx 17000 missionaries who were bent on changing the culture and philosophy of Japan. I will not mention Ataturk here because whilst his name was used extensively..his philosophy was not implemented by our previous President. Primitivity cannot be controlled by human rights laws or debate in parliament. The only way to re-establish the writ of the countries law against those who taken up arms against it , is through ruthless application of the forces is obvious pussy footing, warped diplomacy and peace deals have sieged the capital and other major cities of the country..The fact that Wana to Swat is in their sway, major cities are living under threat and the southern Punjab rural areas are coming under pressure...these acts leave no room for further contemplation on this issue...either the writ is re-established or the forces can lay down their arms and let the defining geo -political event of the 21st century unfold.."The Talibanisation of AfPak".
Food management & boarding: The major recruiting factors for madrassas are food and lodging, instead of incurring heavy expenditure of constructing new facilities and handing them over to corrupt government functionaries..the ideal solution would be to ensure that these madrassa children also attend the local schools and study other subjects like normal children and mix and play with local children whilst boarding and lodging in the madrassa, where they study religion with a new twist of hifz with translation/understanding & adjust the madrassa children in the schools the Govt can get will get the extra classes this stage ensuring free primary education for all along with a free lunch should be the focus of all provincial governments.
To check the brainwashing of these talibs, the Govt will ensure a strict code of what can and what cannot be taught, through installing learned Alims..if at the moment the numbers do not match..then roving teams can be created to maintain a check and balance
To ensure administrative control on a day to day bases and Army Havaldar or Subedar is deputed and monitored ..and a psychologist is made available for the children .. while all the time the Government should endeavour to achieve a transparent disbursement of Zakat in these madrassa so that over a period of time it can develop a reputation and thus win the trust of the Muslims who send their Zakat in billions...So instead of closing down the madaris , we bring them into the mainstream and wean the Mosque away from the semi - literate mullahs into the hands of true alims....from maulvi to mu alim.This would only be possible after the madrassas have been screened and the senior students known to have been brainwashed are separated , de-toxicated and re-recruited in main stream para military forces....where in the world will u get a hardened ...trained recruit...??? Turn this liability into an asset...To create learned and balanced heads of Madaris...the universities should produce Masters and PHD'S in Islamic studies...the subject material should be the best covering study of Koran with translation , Islamic History , comparative religions , culture, ethnic & conflict resolutions-etc. These graduates should be employed with comfortable pays and perks in these madaris..for those posted to the bondooks , a hard area allowance may be created..Another important step is to ban the entry of Maulvis, peers and maulanas who are politically inclined into these institutions.
Empowering civil society: for this a separate article is required but at this stage let me mention that civil society needs to be awakened, instead of remaining as the silent majority, they should be bonded into becoming the vocal and pro - active majority..All Muhalla level committees should have their meetings in the mosque, instead of locking these after ritual prayers and a sub committee formed of the relatively aware and learned to counter the extremist propagation of the maulvi
Secular Pakistan:The final aim of this exercise should be to achieve a secular Pakistan as per the speech of the Quaid on 11th August. The curriculum should be vetted and if we have to teach Islam in schools, than we should also cater for teaching Christianity , Hinduism , Sikhism , Budhism , Zorastriasm-etc for those Pakistanis who are followers of those religions.
If we are to save Pakistan , than a major surgery is the need of the day...Not only do we need to lynch the extremists who are distorting the beautiful religion of Islam but also hang the bodies of the corrupt politicians , generals , police officials , contractors, tax officials-etc ..etc and hang their bodies from the poles with their crime written clearly for all to see..only than would the Nation back wholeheartedly the Government which does this and would march on Swat to contain the extremists.....but ....but who ever dreams of doing this must do the home work in fine as to ensure the application of a new and just workable system.... I have been propagating various issues which I feel could contain and lessen some of the problems that our country is faced this juncture let it suffice that converting to the Presidential form of Government and making thirty provinces will not only go a long way in propagating unity and in maximizing devolution of power, which in themselves will help contain the spread of extremism in our society...but we will be pre - empting the NEO-con agenda of doing away with the state and breaking them down to regional tribes...???? .Pakistan Zindabad

Civil society in Pakistan

February 10, 2010

Pakistans political establishment is back to its old ways of self-preservation, aggrandisement and nepotism. What makes the present malaise different from the 80s and 90s is that all the major political parties are in power with stakes in the system. The architects of the elections in 2008 had drawn a crude power sharing formula that supports back-scratching and keeps them in denial.
As witnessed in Karachi, the political showdown continues through political statements and unleashing of proxies with complete disregard to the value of life and property. The coalition heavyweights continue to trample grass whichever way they interact. The time is not far when the political anarchy thus orchestrated will overshadow the rule of law and eclipses the notion of an independent judiciary and good governance. In the endgame, the beneficiaries of NRO and loan write offs will go unchecked and the power of Zardaris people will be vindicated. 
History of Pakistan is replete with examples that this Trojan of a mindset described in my previous essay, has the insatiable capability to permeate and control any movement. The present crises manifest how a vibrant movement of fundamental rights and justice led by the civil society has been manipulated by political forces of their own ends. The power of black coats has slowly degenerated into a symbol of power that does not respect law. Will the civil society of Pakistan resign itself to the fold of the 60% silent masses to doom the country and its people; or is it time for it to rise once again to fill a vacuum for positive change? 
But what is this Civil Society? It appears as a loose term to describe activities outside the ambit of the state machinery. The Pakistani media has confined it to describe the non-governmental reaction led by lawyers to the sacking of the Chief Justice of Pakistan. President Zardari, however, refers to it as political jokers. 
For philosophers like George Hegel and the revolutionary theorist Karl Marx, civil society was an inclusive concept of 'society minus the state. The philosophers and political scientists of the enlightenment opine that origins of the concept of civil society lie in key phases of modernity wherein philosophy and political economy began to distinguish systematically between the spheres of state and society. In the twentieth century, the development of civil society is seen as a significant criterion of the development of democracy. The fact that no two social scientists agree on a common definition reflects the reality that in each culture, civil society is a reflection of the traditions, conventions and codes of behaviour outside the legal hierarchal structure of the state. 
But South Asia in general and Pakistan in particular has followed a different evolutionary route resisting modernity. The fact that the region has witnessed prolonged rules by invaders through loose governance helped characterise hybrid forms and multiple inheritances giving rise to unresolved struggles between the practices and values of pre-capitalist society; and new modes of social life, between authoritarian legacies and democratic aspirations. Pakistan also has more that one historical context related to the evolution of its society, each with its effects in positive and negative.
The many ancient civilisations of Pakistan were highly evolved, globally dominant and civic. Advent of Islam and rich Sufi traditions resulted in a tolerant and progressive society. The role of village panchaits, jirgas, barter, care of widows and orphans, and collective participation in celebrations and mourning are aspects that are still practised. Colonialism brought modernity and a new concept of governance through divide and rule. A new class that emerged was feudal and opportunist in character and evolved an exclusive fiefdom of its own. 
Pakistani society inherited a strong tradition of progressive citizen organisations with their roots in culture, tradition and Islamic philanthropy. All India Muslim League and 'Idea of Pakistan evolved out of the civic movement of Muhammadan Education Conference. The concept of the modern nation-state introduced by the British crystallised the notion of Pakistan. It is distinct in the sense that the concept of a nation evolved much before the geographical boundaries for Pakistan could be drawn. As time has passed, the state has gradually usurped the concept of the nation to entrench itself in all facets of civil life. 
In a resource starved post 1947 Pakistan, it was mostly the civic organisations that took on the onerous task of caring and rehabilitating refugees. Post Qaid-e-Azam, the role of these organisations was marginalized as the mindset and the state machinery took control of almost all spheres. With passage of time, the democratic traditions weakened, and dream of a Pakistan with progressive, egalitarian and tolerant society turned sour. Pakistan rapidly descended from a country evolved by its civil society to one governed by a hyperactive state that left no room for others to function. Occupation of maximum space by the state with no capability to administer and deliver sucked the people into many dark holes within the culture. Waderaism (fiefdoms), misuse of Madaris for political motivation, tribal justice, drug and land mafias, middleman marketing cartels, private armies and militancy are but to name a few.
This descent into black holes has been chaotic and damaging. Bhuttos populism deprived civic organisations of maximum space and rather strengthened elites and primordial forces. People reacted by low turnouts in elections, invitation to military interventions and formation of a noncommittal silent majority. The result has been a critical deficit in social capital particularly towards human resource development and organisational accountability. There has also been a massive exodus reflected in the views of Pakistani Diaspora spread world over. 
But there are brave hearts. LUMS, Shaukat Khanum Memorial Trust Hospital, Orangi Pilot Project, the Edhi Trust, the Al-Shifa Trust, Sahara for Life Trust, Layton-Rahmatulla Benevolent Trust, the Citizens Foundation, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Riphah University, FC College, Christian missionary institutions and thousands of other smaller, little known philanthropic and public service organizations and NGOs are examples that all Pakistanis are not silent. 
Most recently, the reaction of civil society to the 2005 earthquake and translocation of people from Swat was outstanding. The entire country and civic organisations swarmed to the troubled areas with whatever assistance they could bring. During all suicide bombings and shootouts, volunteers and ambulances of the civil society out number the official rescue efforts. 
Pakistani civil society is still alive and vibrant. The people of Pakistan need a new social contract that strengthens the rule of law and good governance. The civil society needs to galvanise and throw up new leadership capable of exerting relentless pressure on the government and political parties. The silent majority has to venture out of their homes and vote for honest people and political parties. People need to reassert control over the state and reoccupy space they have ceded. If they do, the coming election results in Punjab and the local bodies will be entirely different. Thats when the next phase of true Nation Building will begin. 
The writer is a retired officer of the Pakistan Army and a political economist.