COVID-19: Dispatches from Pakistan

 

Ahmad Nadeem

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Like elsewhere in the world, Pakistan is also grappling with the gargantuan coronavirus pandemic. The Government’s containment measures have rendered the daily wagers and labour class at the brink of starvation as they are unable to sustain even the most basic necessities of life because economic activities have been shut down. In the given scenario, it is heartening to witness local charities including individuals, corporations, industrialists, public sector employees, law and enforcement agencies, medical associations and trade unions have seamlessly sprung and are playing a pivotal role to shoulder the government efforts and stem the economic burden on low-income groups.

Considering the scenario in the country and in order to facilitate the work of local not for profit organisations and civil society organisations, specific measures by the Government have been put in place to facilitate work of, already registered INGOs, during the COVID-19 crisis.

The list of organisations responding to the corona emergency is long and diverse in terms of delivery of services. If certain organisations are distributing free rations, others would be busy in carrying out free tests, supplying medical equipment and establishing dedicated wards for corona patients. The Pakistan Centre of Philanthropy certified organisations include Alkhidmat Foundation, Hashoo Foundation, Saylani Welfare Trust (SWT), Indus Health, Kashmir Orphan Relief Trust, Rural Aid’s Activities in the three Districts, Doaba Foundation, Human Appeal Pakistan, Sindh Support & Development Foundation, PPHI Balchistan, Orange Tree Foundation, Rizq Trust, Patients’ Aid Foundation, Health and Nutrition Development Society, RAHMA Islamic Relief, AGAHE, Rural Community Development Pakistan, Famers Development Organization, WWF Pakistan, Water Aid, Karvan Crafts, Ghurki Teaching Hospital and many more.

Pakistan Centre for Philanthropy (PCP) is a philanthropy infrastructure support organisation which evaluates and certifies Non-Profit Organisations. PCP’s certification acts as a seal of good governance providing added assurance to the grant-makers on the credibility and transparency of its certified organisations. All these certified organisations offers a pool of trustworthy and credible service providers across Pakistan. To provide relief to those that are affected the most by the pandemic, PCP in collaboration with its partner, Give2Asia, has acquired pledges of over US$625,000 (by PepsiCo Foundation and S&P Global Foundation) to support epidemic response efforts in Pakistan. Their grants funded PCP certified nonprofits to rapidly respond and save lives in more than 40 districts across four provinces of Pakistan.

Corporates like Unilever Pakistan donated Rs 200 million towards coronavirus relief efforts while Pakistan State Oil provided ration for the needy families and medical supplies for the hospitals. In order to provide relief to the farmers, Engro Fertilizers Pakistan slashed Rs. 240 per bag price of fertilizers. English Biscuit Manufacturers and Philips Morris Pakistan have also contributed large sums of money. Banks announced that they are waiving transaction charges. Oil and Gas Development Company and other such departments have also issued waivers in monthly gas and electricity bills.

Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has eased the usage of VoIP, VPN and video conferencing applications for educational institutions and online businesses. Telecom companies including Jazz, Ufone, Zong, PTCL and Nayatel have offered free of cost promotions along with food items and medical supplies for doctors and paramedics. Media houses leveraged their presence across the country and aired important messages. The Tele School Channel by Pakistan Television Corporation (PTV) is broadcasting educational programmes from 8am to 5pm every day and delivers content from grades 1 to 12 daily.

Certain individuals and celebrities who contributed through innovative means, in one such case, Naveed Shahzad Mirza (a civil servant) adopted a novel method to create awareness among the masses. His song, that highlighted the importance of precautionary measures, went viral on social media and was broadcasted by the mainstream media. Widely followed actresses and athletes have shared their videos of using their skills to prepare protective gear for the doctors were liked, shared and applauded by millions. Cricketer Shahid Afridi announced that he would not charge fees for endorsing brands if they agree to donate funds for relief efforts. According to media reports, Karachi based industrialist Hussain Dawood alone donated one billion rupees and real estate developer Saad Nazeer donated 240 million rupees to the prime ministers corona relief fund as well. Over 800,000 volunteers registered themselves in the tiger force announced by the prime minister of Pakistan.

Politicians and employees from public sector organisations including armed forces, Water and Power Development Authority also made contributions towards the Corona Relief Fund. Their contribution ranged from pledging certain percentages of their salaries. It was surprising for many that Police also came forward to help the needy in their neighbourhoods. In one such move, they distributed free ration packs amongst the families of minorities on Easter.

Ahmad Nadeem, Manager Communication and Outreach Pakistan Centre for Philanthropy

Tagged in: Coronavirus


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