Tuesday September 21, 2021

Abrar appoints his NGO workers, PTI activists to PRCS

September 16, 2020

LAHORE: Pakistan Red Crescent Society Chairman Abrarul Haq has appointed around three dozens of coordinators in different cities across the country, who are workers of the ruling party or members of his private organisations, Youth Parliament of Pakistan and Sahara for Life Trust.

According to the details available with The News, Syed Wajahat Ali of Youth Parliament of Pakistan was appointed PRCS Coordinator in Bahawalpur, Umair Khan in Khanewal, Abdul Raheem Babar in Faisalabad and Bilal Zulfiqar in Peshawar. Humair Asmat, who is associated with the Sahara for Life Trust, has been appointed as PRCS Coordinator in Muzaffargarh. The coordinators are specifically mandated to identify the list of beneficiaries and manage distribution of relief items by the PRCS in their respective districts. The PRCS organisational setup already exists in most districts across country where respective deputy commissioner is the head of the organisation as per its constitution. In the situation, appointing coordinators is not only creating confusion vis-à-vis roles, responsibilities and mandate but also hindering the smooth working of the organisation.

Official sources said that during the recent Covid-19 pandemic, the coordinators were tasked with coordinating and finalising lists of beneficiaries in their respective districts for distribution of relief items by the PRCS. The practice not only created coordination issues in the organisation but also a number of complaints came to surface during the process as people complained of favoritism and nepotism in the selection of the beneficiaries by the coordinators in violation of the set criteria. Further, a conflict of interests exists in the PRCS as Chairman Abrarul Haq, who is also chairman of his private NGO Sahara for Life Trust and heads Youth Parliament of Pakistan, as the mandate of all the organisations is the same.

PRCS Punjab Youth and Volunteer Department Head Rao Zaka said the Punjab branch had not appointed any coordinator and they were appointed by the National Headquarters (NHQ), which would give policy on the continuation of their appointment after the pandemic. To a question on the distribution of relief items among Covid-19 affectees and lists of beneficiaries, he confirmed that the lists were made by the coordinators. “However, we follow SOPs for the distribution of relief items like the past,” he added.

When contacted, PRCS Chairman Abrarul Haq said that when the pandemic started, the organisation did not have the required number of volunteers. “The PRCS needed to bring the volunteers on the board by structuring their hierarchy and the National Headquarters (NHQ) recommended an organized network through a mobile aApplication. Consequently, the PRCS developed the Muhafiz force App which was used for food collection and distribution. The food collection and distribution was made transparent during Coviod-19 as announcements were made through mosques both for the needy and those who wanted to distribute food among the needy. The PRCS reached out to 96,000 families and 600,000 people during the pandemic and all things are documented through the App,” he added.

Abrarul Haq said the coordinators were appointed for the activity. “The coordinators were appointed irrespective of political affiliation as some people of the PML-N were also appointed to which PTI people raised questions too. Philanthropists, who were not political people, were appointed. I have not issued any political statement since assuming office. Furthermore, the PRCS held orientation sessions and workshops for the coordinators to train them so that they could work irrespective of political affiliations. The coordinators who are philanthropists would be a big asset to the PRCS in the future as they are contributing themselves and are well-off people of society and doing work voluntarily.

To a question on continuation on the boards of his NGO Sahara for Life Trust and Youth Parliament of Pakistan, he said that he was on the organisations as a volunteer and not drawing any salary.

“I have also taken legal advice on it and I can be on the board of any such organisations, he added.