‘Extorted’ donations: Karachi’s multi-million dollar charity business

Published: July 7, 2015
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As the Rangers have started a crackdown against political parties collecting Fitra and Zakat, alKhidmat Foundation, like many other welfare organisations, puts up a billboard calling for people to donate for the poor. PHOTO: ATHAR KHAN/EXPRESS

As the Rangers have started a crackdown against political parties collecting Fitra and Zakat, alKhidmat Foundation, like many other welfare organisations, puts up a billboard calling for people to donate for the poor. PHOTO: ATHAR KHAN/EXPRESS

KARACHI: 

Karachi is well known for its lawlessness and violence. But then again, it has a softer side. Of philanthropy and volunteerism and cub scouts. Unfortunately, this softer side too has become victim to the unrelenting violence – when organisations start fighting to collect more donations and the competition ultimately leads to violence. This was the way things were done in Karachi. Until the Rangers decided to act.

The Sindh Rangers have come down hard on political parties and their welfare wings, accusing them of forcefully collecting donations. Workers are being arrested, cash and Fitra slips are being confiscated and a helpline has been set up where people can register complaints against forceful collection.

Read: ‘Uncharitable’ affairs: Save the Children office sealed in Islamabad

The crackdown by the Rangers is now forcing political parties to change their method of Fitra collection, a compulsory charity with a minimum amount of Rs100 per head, to be paid before Eidul Fitr.

The other round

Since the start of the holy month, more than two dozen volunteers of the Khidmat-e-Khalq Foundation (KKF), a welfare organisation of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), have been arrested by law enforcement agencies – a move that has slowed down its donation drive, said a party leader.

Fearing raids and arrests, the KKF has slightly moved away from its traditional method of Fitra collection by sending out volunteers with receipt books in different neighborhoods.

Party spokesperson Aminul Haque claims that instead, people are coming to their offices to donate money. “People are coming themselves to the KKF office in Dastageer or our headquarters, Nine-Zero.”

The party, which would usually set up collection camps from the advent of Ramazan, only recently set them up. Leaders claim that the KKF banners are being removed from the streets. “We are continuously motivating our volunteers and encouraging them to remain strong in these difficult times.”

The KKF was established in 1979, with the name of Khidmat-e-Khalq Committee. After the formation of the MQM, its name was changed to Khidmat-e-Khalq Foundation.

While the Rangers claim that the arrested men were involved in extortion and forceful collection of donations, the party has denied this and said that innocent people are being arrested. “An audit is also held of the KKF and all legalities are completed. There is complete transparency in the operations.”

The MQM, which claims to collect millions of rupees as fitra and Zakaat, predicts a 19 to 20 per cent decrease from last year, owing to the crackdown of the law enforcement agencies.

Read: Charitable gains: Save the Children allowed to resume work

No shops this time

Another party affected by the Rangers’ crackdown is the Pakistan Sunni Tehreek, whose headquarters were raided and several workers arrested. The party runs a welfare organisation with the name of Ahle Sunnat Khidmat Foundation Trust. This time, it has decided not to collect fitra from shopkeepers. “When we go to shops to collect donations which are not forced, it is labeled as extortion. A donation is a donation. It is wrong to call it otherwise,” said the party’s spokesperson Fahim Sheikh.

The party, however, lauds the crackdown by the Rangers, and says that because of them, extortion has gone down. “Good and bad people are everywhere, even in our party. At the lower level, there may be workers who force others to give donations. We have told people that in case this happens, they should inform our leadership.”

According to the party, 11 workers have been arrested. “Those who love us are still giving us donations.”

The unaffected ones

Jamaat-e-Islami, which collects huge amount of fitra and Zakaat for its welfare organisation, Al Khidmat Foundation, has remained largely immune to the Rangers’ crackdown.

“Most of the fitra and Zakaat comes from our activists. People trust us and unlike other political parties, we don’t force anyone for donations. We don’t tell them to pay us the entire fitra receipt book,” said Zahid Askari, the party’s information secretary.

Hence the party never goes to shopkeepers and traders for collection of fitra. While they do go into neighbourhoods and put up stalls outside mosques, the JI says that they don’t force anyone. “Because of some political parties, this holy work is now being regarded a commercial enterprise.”

Published in The Express Tribune, July 8th, 2015.

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Reader Comments (13)

  • Neutral
    Jul 8, 2015 - 5:44AM

    I can see that finally the operation has started affecting people positively at large .Recommend

  • Liberal
    Jul 8, 2015 - 10:08AM

    Salute to Sindh Rangers, Keep up your good work!Recommend

  • shariq
    Jul 8, 2015 - 11:41AM

    Does writer portraits the true picture of Al-Kidmat Foundation’s social welfare contribution across the country?

    There is no compassion with any other NGO/ political party’s welfare wing with Al-Kidmat Foundation Pakistan.Recommend

  • AK
    Jul 8, 2015 - 11:45AM

    Pakistanis claim that they are one of the largest Charity donors. Infact its – more the Corruption, higher the Charity. People are ready to make money illegally and then for the sake of cleaning their consious, they donate whole heartedely in Charity. If the Chairty receivers honestly make due diligence, I can assure you that there will be very few honest donors left. Pakistan need to improve the essence of Charity by controlling the corruption!Recommend

  • adeel abbas
    Jul 8, 2015 - 1:15PM

    No wonder Al-khidmat / jamaati / Taliban ideology is still being supported by the Establishment and they are after any ideology / moment which is against extremism or Taliban.

    Well Done Zia-ul-Haq / Hamid Gul / Nawaz Sharif. You’ve caused more damaged to the nation in the name of religion then anyone.Recommend

  • Saleem
    Jul 8, 2015 - 1:36PM

    I feel pity for political parties as they can’t continue their Kidmat which some see it as extortion. Indeed, these political parties want to curtail the activities of rangers as it is hurting their core business – extortion. And they are claiming that the ranger’s actions are affecting right of people, of course.

    My request to rangers is to keep it up. Whatever they are doing is bringing more good to people than what these shameful political parties were doing to the masses.Recommend

  • imran qadri
    Jul 8, 2015 - 2:33PM

    @adeel abass
    don’t loose heart, Stone throw away from this billboard another billboard of Mqm’s wing ( KKF )which funds and finances its terror and political activities have also cropped up.Recommend

  • sohail
    Jul 8, 2015 - 5:40PM

    Well done JI for making a difference.Recommend

  • Naeem Khan
    Jul 8, 2015 - 7:48PM

    “There is complete transparency in the operations.” says the MQM spokesman. I say who are they hoodwinking. Through these extortions, MQM finance the posh living in London of their leader Altaf Hussain who has not worked an honest work for living for decades. Oh, I forgot he also gets funds from India where he tells his Indian friends while visiting India that the creation of Pakistan was a mistake. Go ahead, can any one from MQM refute this statement, it is on record. We have abundance of traitors among us. Recommend

  • Sane
    Jul 9, 2015 - 1:36AM

    Was the article written by a sector incharge of MQM?Recommend

  • AA
    Jul 9, 2015 - 7:16AM

    @shariq:
    The topic is forced collection of money not the role of “robin hood” Fitra is obligatory on every Muslim adult or child, however it is between a person and God. No one should be going to person to person to collect it, people have the right to go to a charity of their choosing and donate. All parties should back off and only “receive” donation, no one should be aloud to “collect” it.Recommend

  • @majid
    Jul 9, 2015 - 12:04PM

    Please don’t be so pathetic.. open your eyes and see the ground activities of Al-Khiddmat.. don;t be baisedRecommend

  • umer farooq
    Jul 9, 2015 - 2:54PM

    I appreciate JI for making al-khidmat foundation who is serving the whole country flawlessly amd without any descrimination of colour, language, religion etcRecommend

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