Generosity of Pakistanis Demonstrated
By M. Shahid Yousuf


Professor Adil Najam

At the recent Human Development Foundation of North America (HDFNA) fund-raising function held at the Westin Hotel, Detroit Metropolitan Airport on September 16, 2006, the full dimension of this Pakistani expatriate generosity became apparent. Much of the information was quoted from a recently published book “Portrait of a Giving Community” (Harvard University Press) by Prof. Adil Najam.
Prof. Najam of Tufts University has spoken at APPNA convention in Chicago this summer and is an Associate Professor of International Negotiations and Diplomacy at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University .
The HDFNA fund-raising events in metropolitan Detroit are gala events and manage to raise substantial amounts for this organization. Last year the gathering donated close to $500,000. This year’s gathering included community leaders, three past APPNA presidents Drs. Amjad Hussain, Waheed and Raana Akbar, past presidents of Pakistan American Friendship Society (PAFS), Pakistan Association of America (PAA), Mr. Faiz Khan of Voice of Pakistan (WPON) and Mr. Jafri (Dil Dil Pakistan- WPON). The organizers included Zeenat Anwar, Muzammil Malik, Iqbal Nasir, Alamgir Khan, Nina Khan, Mrs. Rufi Mussani, Farhat Osman, Khalid Rao and Shahid Tahir. Atiya Khan, Vice Chair, HDFNA, gave a personal account with actual examples of the nature of the work in Pakistan. To assist in the fund-raising Amir Ghauri of Geo TV also participated. Receipts so far for this function have totaled $242,000.
Giving an account of the concept of Human Development, Prof. Najam reminded the audience that it was late Dr. Mahboob ul Haq, a Pakistani, who defined human development and is the creator of the scale called human development index. Dr. Adil Najam has worked with the late Dr. Mahboob ul Haq. It was Akhtar Hameed Khan (of the Orangi Project, Karachi), another Pakistani, who demonstrated how to execute a human development project from the grassroots. He also gave the example of Abdul Sattar Edhi which amply demonstrated a practitioner of human development. Making the concept of human development easy to understand, Prof. Najam simplified it by stating that when you ask someone how he is doing, the answer that person gives is human development. The answer will be in the dimensions of “health, wealth and knowledge”. “It is not GDP or GNP.”

(L-R) Prof. Adil Najam, Zeenat Anwar, Atiya Khan and Muzammil Malik

Prof. Najam outlined the state of affairs with regard to Pakistan. “Our greatest export is educated people.” He said South Asia is the home of 40% of the world’s poor. “Over 500 million people live below the poverty level. Where we come from is the world’s single most illiterate region. “More children in South Asia are out of school than the rest of the world.” He pointed to the contradiction that when an average American thinks of Pakistanis and Indians he thinks of doctors, engineers and MBAs. “We come from what has become the most human deprived region of the world. Two hundred and sixty million without basic health, 337 million without safe drinking water. Safe drinking water is not clean water, safe drinking water is that you can see through it, 850 million without rudimentary sanitation, 400 million go hungry every year.”
He gave the following statistics about Pakistan: 47 million Pakistanis, one in every three, live on less than a dollar a day; 1 in 10 without safe drinking water, 4 out of 10 without sanitation; 4 out of 10 under age 5 years suffer from malnutrition; half of all adults and three-fourths of all women are illiterate. He said that there are some encouraging trends with regard to infant mortality that has gone down, life expectancy at birth has gone up but the gap between the rich and the poor has increased. He gave an example of the Rs 5000 note which can buy the services of a driver or a cook for one month. “How many countries do you know where you can pay a decent wage to someone in one note?” “This is a measure of division in society. That is the picture that I would like you to think about.”
HDF as an organization was praised by Prof. Najam who said that it had the characteristics of a successful organization. Referring to a seven volume collection of books that he co-authored with Dr. Tariq Binuri, Prof. Najam stated that HDF had the “seven habits: of successful development. He said successful development organizations “learns from listening. The wisdom was always embedded in the poor themselves. They are poor not because they are not wise. They are poor because someone is in their way and we need to figure out what needs to go out of their way. Good development is community rooted. Good development organizations are mimicked. The greatest success a development organization can have is for other organizations to try to do what they are doing.” He said the HDF model is being emulated by other organizations. He said good organizations are always coming up with new ideas. This the HDF is doing and he gave the example of micro-financing.

(L-R) Zeenat Anwar, Muzammil Malik and Amir Ghauri announce periodic total donations

Elaborating on his observations regarding the Pakistani expatriates, he said, “Philanthropy is not about who you help, philanthropy is who you become. Philanthropy is about identity. Philanthropy answers the question, “Who am I?” He said, “We Pakistanis are a very giving people. In fact we are more giving than we think, because we do not think we are giving.” He said, “We have a deep distrust of institutions. We give a lot but we don’t trust institutions because all our lives we have never seen institutions that work.” He mentioned that much of the giving is at a personal level.
This is where institutions like HDF come in; credible institutions that we can trust. Commenting on the magnanimity of expatriate Pakistani-Americans which number 500,000, he said every year this group spends the equivalent of $1 billion in charity, three- fourth of that is in time and $250 million is in cash and kind. “Most of this goes to individuals.” Over time he said that Pakistani-Americans tend to give more to US causes but not any less to Pakistani causes. “An average Pakistani family in the US gives 3.5% of its income to charity.” In a survey, he found out that most Pakistanis would give more to charity if there were institutions that they could trust. “That is where HDF comes in.” HDF is a civil society organization registered in the USA as a 501 (c) 3 organization.


Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
2004 . All Rights Reserved.