NGOs blamed for damaging administrative system in AJK
8 February 2006
Lahore: Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) engaged in relief and restoration operations in the quake-hit areas of Azad Kashmir are partially to be blamed for damaging the local administration system. “Offices are open but officials are missing in quake-hit districts Muzaffarabad, Bagh and Rawlakot, as most of them have been hired by the NGOs for carrying out their operations,” said Tahir Abbasi and Syed Afraz Gardezi, two journalists from Bagh. Mr Abbasi is former president and Mr Gardezi sitting secretary-general of the Bagh Press Club. They, on a private visit here, had been invited by the Lahore Press Club on Wednesday to share their observations with local mediamen about the relief and restoration work going on in their area. Regretting that the authorities had not collected any data except casualties, they stressed the need for making departments like education, public health engineering, etc., functional for a better restoration work. They said the NGOs, especially international ones, were paying heavy salaries to their staff. They estimated that around 70 per cent of the donation to these bodies was spent on strengthening their structure. “A woman associated with a UN agency engaged in relief work, is being paid $8,000 (around Rs500,000) per month for her speciality in storing maximum relief-aid sacks in a godown.” Answering a question, they said nationalist Kashmiri groups, less than seven per cent of the total population, had disappointed the masses by their poor show in the relief work. Similar was the performance of the Muslim Conference and the PPP, the two major AJK political parties, said they. The role of the PML-N and the PPP-P was also nominal, while the MQM had set up two tent villages in Bagh district. Except the Al- Khidmat and the Jamaatud Daawa, most of other parties had left the area, they said. They said some NGOs could not complete their work in a designated area but were giving okay reports in cluster meetings arranged by UN officials, fearing that such areas would be ignored in future work by other NGOs abandoning victims in their distress.