By Tanveer Ahmad
A heated debate was going on in the pages of ChitralToaday about the performance of different international, regional and local NGOs in Chitral. This is a good tradition of positively criticizing these NGOs so that they will correct themselves in serving the people.
Consequently, my interest grew with. At that time I could not know about the IC. As a result of my curiosity, I interacted with various IC implementing partners and other organizations in the district. It has been said that IC (intercoperation) is a Swiss-funded NGO working in the KP province of Pakistan since 1982. In the controversy of the community of Garam Chashma versus NGOs (AKRSP, IC and GADO), it was one of the hot debated issues in the media in the context of Chitral. One thing came to the limelight that a majority of the educated people (taking part in the debate) are not satisfied with the said NGOs. I do not agree with exaggeration of some writers who want to bail out IC from its shortcomings. We appreciate all NGOs working for the development of the district but good governance principles should not be comprised at such things.
As far as IC is concerned, it is working in Chitral in four valleys of Drosh, Kalash, Shishi Madaklasht and Garam Chashma. The first person who had introduced IC in Chitral was Khalid Hussain, now working with SRSP. He had established a good working relationship with the community. However, he became victim of conspiracy hatched by some influential management staff inside IC. This new group inside the IC was shifting paradigm in their favour and wanted to remove any one from their position if they deem harmful for their interests. This group was also strengthening Urdu speakers in the IC.
The first incident with IC in Chitral happened in its relations was with AVDP (Ayun Valley Development Programme), an LSO of AKRSP, when the NGO’s board of directors (BOD) refused to share power with the focal person appointed by the IC. As a rift, IC said goodbye to AVDP and started its projects in the Kalash valley with another local NGO. It is said that this NGO had performed well in the area without any conflict.
Another issue happened when the local community of Madaklasht expressed their dissatisfaction with IC implementing partner in Drosh and leveled charges of mismanagement in distribution of IC goods. This issue was also solved and the community had to pay in losing of one project. Now the third issue is Garam Chashma where the community openly leveled allegations against IC and appealed to rethink about its partnership with a wrong body.
This is a test case for IC. During my interactions with different stakeholders of the IC, they said it is not a fair organization as presented in one of the letter written by a learnt writer in Garam Chashma and is nothing but making a mountain out of a molehill. The fact is that IC does nothing without the asherwat (hint) of AKRSP in Chitral. AKRSP provides its guidelines. As funded by the Swiss government, it should be neutral practically and not theoretically in its approach. It should establish partnership with those local NGOs who are free of conflict and respect rule of law. It should also be free from the influences of AKRSP in choosing partners. Otherwise there will be criticism and dislike for the organization as we had seen in the case of CIADP, a huge money went back. It is also to be noted that this IC was unable to get NOC from the enforcement agencies to work in Malakand division but despite of that worked in the area secretly breaching legal fulfillments.
It has also been noticed that IC has invented a new method of allotting salary to the chairman BOD as MD of IC projects. This is wrong and BOD is supposed to perform on honorary basis and this thing will loosen the spirit of voluntarism amongst the community. That is why that some people fight for the BOG at huge loss. It must be investigated and verified and if found true IC should abandon this bad practice of wasting the tax money of Swiss people.
By Tanveer Ahmad