The role of religion in charity and development in Karachi November 5, 2010 Development Studies Association Conference
Overview of Presentation • Rationale • Background • Methodology • Profile of organisations • Comparison of organisations (amongst each other) • Comparison with ‘NGOs’ • Conclusions
Rationale for the Study • Although religion has been central in the development and formation of Pakistan as well as in the history of charitable and philanthropic activities in the region (e.g. temples, khanqas, madrasas, missionaries), very little is known about ‘faith-based organisations’ in this context. • The aim of this study was to identify whether ‘FBOs’, as they have been understood in the literature, exist at all in Pakistan, and if so • What contribution do FBOs make to processes of development and • How are they distinctive from ‘secular’ NGOs? Is this a valid distinction at all in the Pakistani context?
Historical and Social Profile of Karachi • Pakistan’s largest and arguably most diverse city as well as its economic centre – population of 12 million • Multiple waves of migration – Muhajirs, Punjabis, Sindhis, Balochis, Pathans • Religious diversity – Christians, Hindus, Parsis, Shias, Sunnis • Stratified along the lines of ethnicity, religion and class • History of humanitarianism beginning with Partition
Methodology: • Qualitative methods and case studies • The research team aimed to identify organisations across religious traditions and across a spectrum of religiosity working in the same sector and geographical area • Research conducted over five months in two phases mainly in Karachi • Interviews conducted mostly with senior staff of 6 organisations because of methodological challenges • Total of 83 interviews with staff, volunteers and some beneficiaries
Challenges in Gaining Depth • Many organisations do not have long-term relationships with beneficiaries • If they do, they prefer not to publicise because of the tradition of ‘giving quietly’ and not embarrassing people • They are not used to outside scrutiny largely because they depend on individual donations, and they also have no need to impress the outside world • Fear around the question of religion in Pakistan since the Zia period (80s) and the war on terror
The Al Khidmat Network • Welfare wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami • Founded at different times since Partition • Includes several organisations: Al Khidmat Foundation, Al Khidmat Welfare Society, Al Khidmat Khawateen and others • Welfare-related activities: education, health, material assistance, relief • Rely on individual, religious donations (zakat, hides from qurbani) • Volunteer-run with some paid support staff
Alamgir and Saylani Welfare Trusts • Urban welfare trusts • Founded in 90s • Focused on welfare and material assistance (Alamgir: medical; Saylani: food programmes) • Provide religious services (hajj, qurbani, istikhara) • Rely on individual religious donations • Rely on paid staff rather than volunteers
Behbud Association • National membership-based organisation led by urban, elite women • Founded in 1967 – Karachi branch established in 1970 • Combine welfare and development – schools, clinics, income generation focused on women • Rely on individual religious and general donations and a limited amount of institutional support • Volunteer-run, staffed by paid employees
Edhi Foundation • Largest national charity • Established in the 1950s • Material assistance and relief – ambulance services, orphanages, homes for the destitute • Family-run organisation • Relies on individual religious donations • Paid staff
Caritas • Part of Caritas International - an international network of Catholic organisations • Established in 1965 in Pakistan • Head office in Lahore and diocesan offices in Karachi, Hyderabad, Quetta, Rawalpindi, Faisalabad, Multan • Works on relief and development in the form of community mobilisation • Relies on funding from Caritas national offices • Paid staff
Comparison of Organisations • Spectrum from welfare to development • Edhi, Alamgir/Saylani, Al Khidmat focus largely on welfare and relief • Behbud and Caritas provide relief and welfare but also include longer-term development projects • Depend largely on individual, religious donations • Behbud receives a limited amount of institutional support • Caritas receives funds from other Caritas country offices • Spectrum of religiosity (Berger 2003) • Al Khidmat, Alamgir/Saylani, and Caritas are all explicitly religious • Religion is intertwined with Behbud and Edhi’s work mostly as a motivating factor for donors
Comparison with ‘NGOs’ • Orangi Pilot Project, Indus Resource Network, Thardeep Rural Support Programme, and Sindh Agricultural and Forestry Workers Association • All are funded through institutional donors • All four work on long term development rather than welfare although some grew out of emergency situations • All present themselves as ‘secular’ or ‘non-religious’ and are critical of religious-based organisations and charities in general
Conclusions • The term ‘FBO’ is problematic in the Pakistani context • The main distinction is between local charities, for which religion is often intertwined with their work, and professional development organisations, which have no apparent relationship with religion • The more important variable in determining an organisation’s orientation and priorities seems to be its funding sources rather than religion, although the two are related • Religion is intertwined with charity but not with ‘development’ • Most organisations avoid the label ‘FBO’ either because religion (Islam) is taken as a given or because of the negative connotations this term has acquired since the war on terror • Caritas is an exception, which can be explained by its position within an international network that has evolved in relation to wider discourses around ‘development’
Conclusions (cont.’d) • When analysing the nature of organisations, religion (which itself varies depending on religious group, sect, ideology, politics) must be understood as one variable amongst many, including the social makeup of the organisation, the political and ideological profiles of its members, its origins and position within national and international networks, and its funding sources.