The First Policy Dialogue on the Charity for Goodness was organized in a local hotel on 19 June 2017. Hosted by Bargad, an organization for youth development, it examined the pressing issue of safe charity and the ways to delink charity with terror financing. Media anchor, academician and Program Director at IBA, Dr. Huma Baqai moderated proceedings of the policy dialogue, which was attended by representatives of civil society, charity organizations, media and universities.
The policy dialogue is part of the project, entitled “Charity for Goodness” that also plans launching an awareness and dissemination campaign in selected markets of two districts of Karachi. The participants of the policy dialogue recommended that banned organizations should not be allowed to operate and should strictly be monitored by the state. This should not look like a cosmetic measure but the ban should be real.
Renowned journalist Mubashir Zaidi emphasized the need to educate general public and make them aware about significance of safe charity. He said that campaigns have to be launched to provide knowledge of peace-loving religion so that people can give charity to right people. Such efforts should focus on behavioral and mindset changes and promote acceptance and tolerance of others in the society. We are generally a naïve people and easily believe what the religio-political outfits convey us in the name of piety and charity, he added.
Dr. Amir Feroz Shamsi from IOBM pointed out during the policy dialogue that there are three areas for mindset development: school, Masjid/madressah, curriculum. The government needs to make changes in curriculum and purge hateful material against communities living in Pakistan. Furthermore, the government should make basic education about society, youth health & self-esteem as part of the curriculum.
Abdul Bari (Youth Activist) said that it is responsibility of the government, corporate sector and the civil society to support awareness to public on what is charity. This should especially focus youth and launch awareness campaigns in educational institutions regarding safe charity. The government should institutionally engage schools in such campaigns.
Mr. Muqtdr said that orientation programme on safe charity for teachers of schools, colleges and universities are a must. He also called upon the civil society to involve local mosques in such efforts. Sensitization of the media is another significant area of intervention.
Mubasher Zaidi was of the view that in order to make a large scale impact, youth should be involved in Social Media campaigns. Attractive and creative slogans and key messages should be developed and publicized. These should be locally relevant i.e. “Charity for Goodness, not for Terrorists or Beggars’.
Academics including Muqtadar Ahmed said that there is compelling need to conduct research studies in order to find linkages between charity and terror financing in the context of Pakistan. A culture of research, critical thinking and dialogue and debate, in general, should be promoted in every aspect of life particularity in the education institutions. We have to find the main problem, the root to terror financing through research. Then there are practical questions that we require to prove through research on how we will motivate local donors to give charity for goodness and what will work in this respect. Another research question can be to find out what are the factors that our youth are attracted to militant organizations and to look at the recruitment processes and ways to disengage them and mainstream into health activities.
Uzma Noorani said that transportation companies are important stakeholders of the safe charity. The government should ban all random charity collections within vehicles and trains. It was agreed during the policy dialogue that since this is the first year in a long time that people of Karachi would donate independently and freely, it’s time to avail this opportunity and launch awareness campaign on charity.