After seeing life-changing projects firsthand in Pakistan, Islamic Relief and other NGOs have pushed for enhanced cooperation to achieve sustainable development in the country.

Islamic Relief's Jehangir Malik speaking at the MCF event.

Islamic Relief’s Jehangir Malik speaking at the MCF event.

About half of the Pakistan’s population lives in poverty, and the very poorest people rely on aid and development organisations to provide vital services. The impact of humanitarian and development projects on poor communities was observed by representatives of the Muslim Charities Forum (MCF) – an umbrella organisation for British-based Muslim international NGOs – and ACEVO during their visit to the country last week.

The delegation included Sir Stephen Bubb, Chief Executive of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO), Jehangir Malik OBE, Director of Islamic Relief UK and Othman Moqbel, Chief Executive of Human Appeal International.

Islamic Relief welcomed delegates to flagship projects in Rawalpindi, such as orphan sponsorship, healthcare and microfinance. Projects by other MCF members – including Muslim Hands, Muslim Aid, Orphans in Need and READ Foundation – were also visited by the delegation.

Cooperation to achieve lasting change

In a special session held to mark the end of their visit, delegates reflected on the projects as well as the international context for Muslim charities operating in Pakistan and elsewhere.

Delegates visit an Islamic Relief health camp in Rawalpindi.

Delegates visit an Islamic Relief health camp in Rawalpindi.

The Islamabad event was attended by government officials including State Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony, Pir Muhammad Amin Ul Hasnat, Farzana Yaqoob, Minister of Social Welfare and Women’s Development AJK, as well as representatives from international development and humanitarian agencies and the United Nations.

The session emphasised the need to enhance cooperation between its member organisations, civil society and the public sector.

Addressing the audience, Jehangir Malik of Islamic Relief UK stressed that the work of civil society is critical to an internationally cooperative future.

Dignified lives, community and interfaith harmony

AJK Minister for Social Welfare, Farzan Yaqoob, highlights the work of Muslim charities.

AJK Minister for Social Welfare, Farzan Yaqoob, highlights the work of Muslim charities.

Sir Stephen Bubb spoke of the need to ensure sustainable development for marginalised communities and commended the development and humanitarian work of MCF member organisations in Pakistan.

He highlighted the success of MCF member projects in empowering vulnerable people to lead dignified lives and fostering a sense of community and interfaith harmony across Pakistan.

“Civil society organisations often struggle to meet acute demand for humanitarian support in Pakistan, despite their excellent efforts,” he said.  “I urge the government, civil society and particularly MCF members to continue to cooperate in their work for disadvantaged communities.

“It is particularly important to continue helping to empower women, a vital step to building a more progressive country. The Pakistan government’s continued support is critical to the success of humanitarian efforts and I hope it will continue long in to the future.”

Islamic Relief has delivered extensive humanitarian and development programmes in Pakistan since it began working in the country in 1992.