Long distance: Social welfare department moves against ‘dormant’ NGOs

The NGOs had not kept contact with the department for at least the last five years

Sameer Mandhro July 09, 2015
The NGOs had not kept contact with the department for at least the last five years. PHOTO: AFP


The social welfare department (SWD) has decided to take action against registered organisations that have not kept legal contact with the department for at least last five years.

Interestingly, the department, through newspapers, has issued show cause notices to 111 organisations. Most of these organisations were established in the city's oldest area, Lyari and are registered for the welfare of their respective communities.

Some of the organisations were registered in the 1960s and are considered among the oldest in Sindh. Nearly 10,000 of these organisations are registered across Sindh, including more than 4,000 in Karachi alone.

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According to the SWD, the organisations that have failed to keep in contact with the department have been warned. The registration of those organisations will be cancelled which fail to cooperate with the SWD, said the SWD provincial coordinator, Abdul Aleem Lashari. "It is a final warning because the department has already sent them notices," Lashari told The Express Tribune.

The official said that these organisations have failed to submit progress reports, social activity reports, election reports and renew their organisations' registration.  Lashari added that action will only be taken against organisations registered under the Social Welfare Act.

Lashari claims that all district officials have been asked to submit progress reports of the organisations in their districts so that action can be taken accordingly. "It is the first phase," Lashari claimed, adding that notices will be issued to other similar organisations of the city in the second phase, while dormant organisations in other districts of the province will also be given final warnings.

On the other hand, officials of the above mentioned organisations claim that the SWD's officials never maintained contact with them nor had they issued notices before publishing their organisations' names in the newspaper.

"We haven't ever been served a notice," said the general-secretary of the Anjuman Young Muslim Hingora, Abdul Majeed Hingora. "I don't think the SWD has ever bothered to contact us nor has it asked us to submit any report," he added. He complained that the SWD has issued show-cause notices through newspapers. "How are we supposed to know about such notices?" he asked.

Hingora said that his organisation is one of the oldest in the city and was registered in 1963. "Our elders started social welfare activities according to the law and we follow them," he said. He said that the organisation has 2,000 members from different parts of the city and has three Jamaat Khanas [community halls], including one in Old Kalri, one in New Kalri and one in Moosa Lane.

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"We work for the welfare of our community people," he explained, saying that the social activities are extended to help needy families financially.

Suleman Patel, the president of Kutchi Muslim Mandra Jamaat, was also unaware of the issue when contacted by The Express Tribune. "We weren't given any notice earlier," he said.

He said that his organisation also serves community members and also provides graveyard facilities. "The jamaat is bound to help its members in all difficulties," he explained. He said that his jamaat has also extended its services to other part of the city, such as Keamari and Khokhrapar. "We aren't given any financial help by the government or from any other donor agencies. It's a self-based charity organisation that serves its own people," he added, saying the jamaat also comes out whenever a disaster takes place anywhere in the city or province.

The office bearers of these organisations complained that the government has taken action against only community-based welfare organisations which do not receive financial aid from foreign agencies.

Lashari clarified that the decision has been taken solely by his department. "The action is not being taken on the directives of any agency," he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 10th, 2015.