Tag Archives: Pakistan

The Unrealized Potential of Volunteerism in Pakistan

pakistan-earthquake

Fayyaz Bhidal is a CIPE-Atlas Corps Think Tank LINKS Fellow at the Atlantic Council

Saturday, October 8, 2005 was an unfortunate day in the history of Pakistan. The entire country was ravaged by an earthquake that registered 7.6 magnitude on the Richter scale. The tremor devastated the entire Kashmir region, razing almost every building to the ground. It also damaged large parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan provinces and caused a high rise housing tower to collapse in Islamabad. The loss, both human and material, was colossal. The death toll surpassed 100,000, and 3.5 million people were displaced. The injured were numerous and everywhere.

This earthquake in Pakistan, just like earthquakes anywhere else in the developing world, caught disaster response institutions off guard. They were unprepared, lacked the essential rescue equipment, training, and resources. On top of that, road and rail networks were no longer usable without major repairs.

In the face of this massive catastrophe, when the state institutions were stuck in a state of panic, the responsibility fell to common people to take it upon themselves to do whatever they could to save their brethren pinned under the rubble and debris. Their efforts rescued over 138,000 injured stuck under collapsed buildings, and saved many more women, children, and elders who lost their families in the calamity. Had it not been for their efforts, most of the injured would have died by the time government rescue teams reached them after a delay of 78 hours.

Attending a panel on ‘Disaster Protection through Preparation’ at the Points of Light Conference in Atlanta, and learning about the role volunteers played in Nashville in saving people and properties during the 2010 floods, and later on helping the city clean up and recover, I could not help but think about the role volunteers played during the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan. They not only helped minimize the damage and sped up rescue, recovery, and rehabilitation efforts, they also left the affected communities more united and self-reliant.

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Study Shows Lack of Ideas is Not What’s Holding Women Entrepreneurs Back

 

south asian women training

Participants at a recent training workshop for South Asian women’s business associations in Kathmandu.

African women are almost twice as likely to have a new business idea they would like to develop than women in Europe and the United States, according to a new study commissioned by Dell. This is further proof of what many of us already know – that there is no lack of ideas and energy among women entrepreneurs in developing countries. It is institutional barriers and local economic conditions that primarily hold back women who are looking to start a business.

CIPE and its partners have supported women entrepreneurs in a number of countries to make significant gains in increasing their role in the economy and their input to public policy. For example, women’s business associations in Nigeria have successfully advocated to increase their role in a national conference to review the nation’s governing institutions.

In Pakistan, CIPE and its partners worked to reform the National Trade Organizations Ordinance to allow women to form their own associations and improve women’s representation on already established chamber boards. The Bangladesh Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry has successfully advocated for local and national level policies to improve access to credit for women entrepreneurs. And in Papua New Guinea, a new CIPE-supported women’s business association helped to establish a “women’s desk” at the largest commercial bank in the country to make it easier for women entrepreneurs to obtain bank loans.

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South Asian Women’s Chambers and Associations Learn Effective Advocacy Techniques

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By Hammad Siddiqui and Marc Schleifer

For the past two years, CIPE has been working to build the capacity of women’s chambers and businesses associations from across South Asia. Last month, they took the next step into policy advocacy.

Through a series of workshops in Dhaka, Kathmandu, Lahore and Colombo, CIPE has fostered relationships among a group of organizations from Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bhutan. The workshops have focused on topics such as strategic planning, membership development, board governance, staff empowerment, financial sustainability and communications strategies.

This June, CIPE organized the fifth in its series of networking and training sessions, again in Kathmandu. Following CIPE’s general approach, it is first important to strengthen the organizations themselves so that they can then be more successful in working on policy reform. Thus after four sessions of capacity-building for these chambers and associations, encouraging them to focus on serving the needs of their membership, this three-day session focused intensively on policy advocacy.

The CIPE team, led by Senior Consultant Camelia Bulat, with input from Pakistan Office Deputy Director Hammad Siddiqui, Director for Multiregional Programs Anna Nadgrodkiewicz, and Regional Director for Eurasia and South Asia Marc Schleifer, presented a range of tools and approaches to help the 19 participants think strategically about advocacy.

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Pakistan’s Business Community Learns to Speak With One Voice

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By Majid Shabbir

The advocacy process in Pakistan is strengthening as the leaders of the country’s Chambers of Commerce and Industry assembled for a series of Pre- and Post-Budget Conferences in Islamabad, Karachi, Faisalabad, and Rawalpindi to discuss the key business-related policy issues.

In these conferences business leaders of the Chambers thoroughly deliberate important issues and send consolidated policy recommendations to the government. Business associations individually make recommendations on various policies, but with a collective voice they are able to communicate more effectively. Their voice is better heard, and as a result more of their suggestions are incorporated while developing economic policies.

In the pre-budget conferences held by the Karachi and Faisalabad Chambers, the business leaders discussed in-depth trade and economic issues and presented detailed recommendations to the government for consideration. Before the announcement of the Federal Budget the government also involved Chambers and Associations in the consultative process by holding series of meetings with the leaders of these associations.

After the budget was released, the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry organized an All Chambers Presidents Post-Budget Conference with the theme of “Together for a Progressive Pakistan” on June 14 that was attended by all major Chambers including Karachi, Lahore, Faisalabad, Sialkot, KPK, and Rawalpindi, as well as experts and high-level government officials.

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CIPE Pakistan Releases 2013 Activities Report

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CIPE Pakistan has completed its 7th successful year. The 2013 Pakistan Activities Report details the progress of yet another instrumental year for policy reform driven by the private sector in the country.

Following are the highlights of the report:

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A Platform for Fixing-Space

Aksal BilalBy Aksa Bilal, honorable mention in the CIPE 2013 Blog Competition. Read the rest of the winning entries here.

I remember it was just 6 years ago, when boys and girls of merely 16 or 17 years of age wore a black cloth on their arms as a sign of defiance against our very own, our very recent, 4th dictator and former President of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf. They wanted what is the right of the 7 billion people of this planet. They wanted democracy, a free and fair system, a truly representative government.

Now some wore the black sign of defiance not because of their sudden political awakening or out of their spirit of democracy, but because defiance seemed oh-so-cool and I admit – all the cool kids were doing it. When they talked, you could hear the father’s and uncle’s last-night dinner conversation, with angst driven knives and forks waving in the air. You could imagine furrowed eyebrows and big mustaches while the kid reminisced very verbally, for too long, only to forget it as soon as the black cloth was no longer “in.”

Then there were those who took to the streets for the judiciary and for the restoration of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and stood their ground against dictatorship with such zeal and zest that these became monumental achievements in the history of the country. They were the theatrical productions of the power of the common man, of the power of masses. With sadness I confess that I was amongst neither of these people. I was among the indifferent, too occupied with the next exam, too ignorant of what was not happening within the kilometers between my home and my high school.

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How the Lack of Accountable Local Government Holds Back Democracy and Development in Pakistan

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Some of Pakistan’s districts — where administrative power is concentrated — contain more than a million people.

Fayyaz Bhidal is a CIPE-Atlas Corps Think Tank LINKS Fellow at the Atlantic Council

If one were to number the challenges Pakistan faces today, one may end up with an exhaustive list of issues ranging from poor security to faltering economic growth, rising crimes to social unrest, corruption to political instability, among others. A closer look at these problems, however, will reveal that a great deal of these issues stem from poor governance and the centralization of political and administrative powers on the part of both provinces and federal government.

Take Punjab for example. A province that is spread over 79,284 square miles and houses of over 100 million individuals, it is divided into 36 administrative units called districts. Despite having a democratically elected political establishment in the provincial center, Lahore, the districts are governed and administered by senior bureaucrats known as Deputy Commissioners (DCs). This position is a legacy of the colonial era and emulates a system with highly concentrated power, allowing no say to the local communities in decision making process.

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