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• Dr. Muhammad Hanif Khalil has resumed the charge as Acting Director of the National Institute of Pakistan Studies, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad w.e.f. 25-09-2023
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National Institute of Pakistan Studies
Name of ScholarZobia Sultana
Title of Dissertation Gender and Development in Pakistan: A Case Study of Ghazi Barotha Taraqiati Idara in Garyala
Issue Date2018
PublisherNational Institute of Pakistan Studies, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan.

The said study was an endeavour to understand and analyse the potential of Ghazi Barotha Taraqiati Idara (GBTI: a civil society development organization) to address the challenge of gender based injustices in village Garyala district Attock of Pakistan. One village was selected to comprehensively assess GBTI’s intervention affecting (positively/negatively) and addressing the gender based injustices at community level. Further, this study aimed to highlight the understanding of community and GBTI about it.

In general this research study re-confirmed most of the cherished features of NGOs e.g. inculcation of sense of ownership in beneficiaries (indoctrinated through their direct participation and by cost sharing), cost efficiency, and above all, the fact that poor were the potential and main beneficiaries of NGOs’ intervention. Nonetheless, this research also revealed that both community and GBTI neither saw poverty as a structural problem nor was working for its long term solution by becoming a part of a national or a transnational movement. In-depth discussions and meetings with the community leaders and staff of GBTI revealed a high level of urgency and restlessness to alleviate poverty and to provide assistance to the increasingly downtrodden segment of the population, even at the cost of ideology. This was the major motivation of this segment of population who had embraced the philosophy of GBTI. Despite all vices pointed out by the community members and by the GBTI regarding the given NGO approach of working with communities, as yet it appeared as the most trusted and the highly appreciated one in the given scenario both by the concerned communities and by the GBTI staff. The main reasons for this were the direct participation of concerned community and high character of GBTI staff as reported by the community. The study reinforced that direct participation and honesty were the two basic tenets of the road to success.

Nonetheless, it was learnt that at least a communal thought of primary level to look after the interest of the community at local level had developed in few individuals which kept their community organizations (COs) alive at best or dormant at worst but at least were not allowing them to peter out completely. However, it was of some concern that community organizations were internally fragile and could not look after their own affairs properly. It was therefore of some doubt that whether they could get together for larger causes at local, regional and national levels to fight against the injustices and corruption. In addition to this, community mainly saw CO as a conduit of their most immediate and basic material gains being offered to them by GBTI.

As per the practice of GBTI the only method utilized to address gender issues was to get both males and females organized in the form of community organizations and to involve them in deliberations, decision making and interventions. Otherwise no explicit and conscious work was done to understand, address or problematize the local gender ideology, concepts and issues. GBTI lacked at commitment to translate its explicit promise into practice through adoption, implementation and institutionalization of an elaborate gender policy. The organization did not have a gender policy and was not implementing it. Additionally, the staff of the GBTI was not on the same page about their understanding and significance of gender issues. The question remains that how any ultimate agenda (of a thoroughly gender just society) will be achieved out of the project oriented approach which only seemed to see the problem as being the non-inclusion of women without acknowledging and therefore failing to address the issues created by the presence of structural constraints (e.g. attitudinal, societal, legal, and religious etc.). This latter is despite the importance of reducing the barriers known to limit the participation of women in society having been underlined in GBTI brochures and other literature. The study also reconfirmed that community people discriminated against women like most of the state institutions and laws of the land (e.g. in the more explicit forms of Hudood ordinances, law of evidence, law of Qisas [revenge] and Diyat [Blood Mooney] and even Muslim family law) by heavy reliance upon the traditional and static reading and interpretation of historical Shariah and cultural traditions. To address this particular issue and other general issues there is high need of a bold and progressive reading of Islamic Injunctions and to evolve a sacred text more compatible with women’s human rights.

Overall, both poverty and gender were not being dealt with as structural issues rather in isolation. On the other hand, the people cantered development or social transformation movement is in fact a mega movement that embraces the proactive agendas of many existing social movements, including the environment, human rights, peace, women’s social justice, and consumer protection movements etc. The mega movement will emerge as a truly substantial force for change only as the participants in its component movements come to recognize the extent to which the realization of their own agendas depend ultimately on achievement of the larger transformational agenda. In this way the non-ideological intervention in a corruption ridden society cannot give way to a movement let alone the required mega movement to establish the most wanted and desired system of social and gender justice.