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NGO mania in Chitral -Article

ZA Zulfi

A number of different Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) are operating in Chitral focusing on the education, social, heath and other major sectors. We are be grateful to all such organizations which came to Chitral during late 80s and 90s with good faith of serving the area and contributed a lot to the socio economic development of this impoverished region of Pakistan because for one reason or the other, this area was totally neglected by the government sector. NGOs achieved much success during a very short time in improving the quality of life in Chitral. They worked with the collaboration of local communities and built schools, hospitals, water channels, drinking water pipelines and roads to link the most difficult terrains of this lofty piece of land.


However, the numbers of NGOs which are really working on practical grounds and aiming at improving various field of life are very few in number. Recently it has been seen that most of the people are merely obsessed with this name. The malfunctioning and idleness of some of the NGOs is a testimony to the fact  that the sponsoring agencies and individuals in the western countries have been dishing out money blindly. This piece of article is aimed at presenting the achievements of some of the NGOs while at the same time highlighting the work of other so called developmental organization.

The major contribution of NGOs in Chitral is that they created awareness among the community wherever they worked. Bringing the community into the mainstream and working for quality education and health care is big success in this mountainous region where the people have long been under extreme poverty. One can easily justify the fact that presently people in the most remote and backward areas of Chitral are more conscious about their social and moral responsibilities. They are far better, in terms of their way of thinking and wisdom, then the people residing in down districts like Dir, Swat, Mardan etc. and in some respect better than the people residing at arms length from the federal capital.


NGOs with the community participation did a tremendous job to boost the literacy rate along with the intellectual development of the people really deserve credit and appreciation. Initially, it was a Herculean task to work with the people of most backward region as they were already deprived of means and motivation to enhance their life standards. Community participation in the developmental sector served as a training for the people which ultimately helped to change the behavior and attitude and also changed the outlook dramatically in a positive way. With the time passage people became aware of their rights and responsibilities and they took the ownership of whatever they built with their own hands. In this way the dream of sustainable development turned into reality in this area. In other words NGOs ignited the spark which was already in the peopleís mind. They directed a community towards a common goal. Through concrete steps they also showed a roadmap which, community carried into effect. In other words, only the concept of development was provided by the NGOs and the community actualized that difficult concept with pragmatic action steps.

The Aga Khan Development Network and its various other services have been instrumental in the socio economic uplift of Chitral. Other foreign funded organizations, Chitral Area Development Project (CADP) and Sarhad Rural Support Program (SRSP) must also be credited for a enormous contribution. CADP made a very brief appearance in Chitral and did a lot of things for its betterment. Besides other socio economic and awareness activities the gigantic and gallant building of Government Girls Degree College in Chitral is one solid proof. If the CADP had not built this building it might have taken several years to construct a solid building which is catering the educational needs of more than thousand students and enlightening their minds and life with a wealth of education.

Despite all the above facts and figure, However, it has been a very recent phenomenon that many people have become obsessed with the term NGOs in the name of so called development. Those who can do nothing open an office and label it with a name, like human right office, child right office, or any other name. It takes very less time to attract the donors from abroad. People are employed and bank accounts are opened. These so called NGOs promote their activities and programs in comparatively developed localities where the stage has already been set and the ground is already cleared by the previously active organizations. They in turn want to take credit and sent their so called success stories to their benefactors in order to attract more funds. Taking a simple example it could be made clear. There are many who claim to be providing justice and legal awareness to women or claiming to be the champion of women rights. Sometimes I wonder that they never pay attention to the neglected areas where women are prevented from raising their voice. These NGOs go for work among the women who are already in a good position to define their rights and responsibilities and where women have already got autonomy in decision making and problem solving. The so called legal advisors realized the situation well and they found a suitable ground to earn money in those areas where the working environment has already been cleared by the previously functioning institutions. They focused already developed areas and again neglected the neglected people.

For many reasons AKDN and other previously working NGOs could not give proper attention to some areas of Chitral such as Arandu, Drosh, Kooh and some parts of Torkhow and Mulkhow. While people in the rest of the areas welcomed the NGOs and got huge benefits in terms of education, health care and social awareness, people of some areas resisted the NGOs and they remained under developed. One can find a huge gap between such two examples.

It is my suggestion to all NGOs to divert their attention to the areas where the people need more attention. It is the right time to work with the deprived and unaware. Why these so called NGOs always choose Lotkuh area or Mastuj as a ground to work?  I want to draw your kind attention to the areas such as Arandu, Drosh, Tehsil Chitral and some part of Torkhow and Mulkhow where the women are not allowed to talk about their rights. If the goal of the NGO is developing the people at any cost then working with the already aware areas does not serve any purpose except earning more and more money. There is already a gap between the people of different areas. Successive intervention in such areas will widen this gap and the people there feel deprived. So have a pause and think about this situation. Please donít be only occupied with the name NGO but work on practical ground to really change the fate of the most deprived.


ZA Zulfi,

Booni, Chitral

18 June 10.



Comment -1


Reference the subject article, there is no doubt that NGOs have paid more attention towards some areas while ignoring others,( for whatever reason). Evidence is the fact that most writers to Chitral News are from Booni and Lotkooh, but hardly have we heard somebody write a letter or article from Arandu or Torkhow or Mulkhow, giving away the state of education/awareness disparity between different parts of Chitral. I'm sure NGOs would take necessary steps to create a healthy balance.


Muhammad Asif,


20 June 10



Comment -2


Reference to the letters NGO mania in Chitral, I fully agree with the esteemed writers that almost all the NGOs have worked in soft areas. It is not the fault of NGOs or civil society organizations. It is the fault of the people of those areas, as without thinking they are being exploited by so-called political and religious leaders.

Some of the NGOs or Civil Society Organizations are using the names of these backward areas and use the funds in trouble-free places to get more recognition with less expenditure.

From reliable source it is known to me that to cope with above situation Norway Government which is gigantic donor to Chitral and Pakistan has establish it's Project Management Unit (PMU) in Chitral with the name of Chitral Integrated Area Development Programme (CIADP) for utilization of his grant. Grand Managers sitting in Chital PMU have approached to these backward areas i.e. Beuri, Arandu, Terich, Lot Oveer, Nishku, Rumboor, Mastuj, Koh, Broz, Proper Chitral and surrounding. They have started quite some good project in their first year. CIADP PMU implements project with the help of implementing partners and start their works with proper assessments of the needs of local people in these remote areas. After assessment in these areas, their projects of irrigation channels, water supply schemes, protective works, agriculture development, constructions of government schools and hospitals according to the genuine need of the people of these remoter areas are ready. However, some hypocrite political leaders are  making hurdles in there way for utilization of funds according to their vested interest as they have been utilizing the funds and resources of other NGOs. These so-called greedy politicians are enemies of Chitral rather enemies of humanity that block the development for poor people of backward areas. The masses of Chitral should come forward and cooperate with NGOs and CSOs for the development of their backward areas instead of being exploited in the hands of these politicians

Second thing is that development is the responsibility of Government and being citizen of Pakistan, we have equal right as the people of other regions of Pakistan. Nevertheless, due to lake of leadership, Chitral is getting the least share in provincial and federal government funds among all the districts of KPK. The provincial and federal funds should be distributed according to the area not according the volume of population but in the hands of educated and honest leaders and people.
The provincial and Federal Government funds is coming through MNA, MPAs District Nazims etc. These authorities use the funds as if it was coming from their own pocket and do so most unjudiciously. They distribute the funds among their supporters as a token of reward for their loyally. The politicians who are criticizing NGOs should ask about the government funds that are being used for nothing but to feed corrupt contractors and officials.

Sabih Ullah Chitrali,
Karachi, Pakistan

24 June 10



Comment -3


Reference to the letter NGO mania in Chitral, I being a student of Aga Khan University Karachi having one of my course subject about community development, I agree with the writer because he is trying to draw the attention of NGOs to the development of backward areas. But the specific issues the writer is talking about cannot be solved or handled without community willingness. It is the proper time for mentioned communities to welcome NGOs to help them on their way to progress.

Inamullah Khan Yaftali,
AKUH Karachi,
28 June 10


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