A charitable nation we are

Published: June 9, 2011

We have more than 21 respected charity organisations and Abdul Sattar Edhi’s name is synonymous with charity all over the world.

I had a very good experience recently which made me realise there is so much good in Pakistan which goes unreported. I was visiting the McDonald’s restaurant on Tariq Road in Karachi and on my way out, I came across a family with four children, the eldest probably around 10.

I fell in step with them and the minute we left the restaurant, a crowd of beggars surrounded us. While I brushed them aside, the four children who each carried a Happy Meal box, readily handed them over to the beggars —who were also children.

Since I was standing with them, I couldn’t help but commend to the children’s father that he has such wonderful kids. His answer impressed me:

“Teaching your children right from day one is important as their observation powers are far sharper than of any adult. Along with manners, teach them good habits today, they will be better Pakistanis tomorrow.”

I am a very curious person by nature. When something arouses my interest, I need to learn more and talk about it. I Googled to see where Pakistan stands in philanthropy.

I was amazed by the result.

According to a 2009 corporate report of Pakistan Centre for Philanthropy (PCP), the corporate sector alone had donated Rs2.35 billion in that year.

Pakistan is considered amongst one of the most charitable nations in the world. An undated article that I came across by a fellow-journalist Khadeeja Balkhi noted that in 2000, Pakistani individuals had given Rs67.7 billion in charity. Eleven years down the line, I don’t think I can even estimate where that figure must have reached.

Moreover, the article also said:

“The PCP’s pioneering study in 1998 showed that total giving by individuals was equivalent to 17 per cent of the year’s national revenue.”

We have more than 21 respected charity organisations and Abdul Sattar Edhi’s name is synonymous with charity all over the world.

I was left with one thought after all my research. I have never ever felt prouder of being a Pakistani than I am today.


Faryal Najeeb

A sub-editor on the business pages of The Express Tribune. She has a passion for commerce journalism.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Fahad Raza

    Yeah that good and fine with we are one of the most charitable Nation but do we keep a track of what we give in charity and who we give it. Mostly the answer is No. Its excellent to give in charity but equally important to know who we give and does it actually goes where we intend.
    I remember during 2005 Earth Quake. I saw a camp to collect stuff on there behalf but when collected it was rolled in one of the houses of the trust. that scam was busted by the help of neighborhood. Careful to whom to donate is all I say. The article is very nice I must sayRecommend

  • ahmed

    I wouldn’t dwell too much on the corporate contribution numbers you narrate. They do all sorts of weird and wonderful things to mitigate their tax liabilities and charity is one those instruments.

    However, what you witnessed those four children doing is laudable.Recommend

  • ahmed

    I wl’d be a bit sceptical about the corporate donation figures you narrate. They do all sorts of weird and wonderful things to mitigate their tax liabilities off the back of so called “donations”.

    However, what you witnessed those children doing is laudable in this day and age.Recommend

  • Kumar

    I had read about pakistan charity from one of my pakistani friend.I was little skeptical but reading your report really confirmed it .I wish ,india could learn to do charity .we have failed miserably in helping destitute and poor people.To the worst, our NGO and world bank aid organizations are very corrupt.

    I think ,this is one the field where we would like to learn from our western neighbor.I dont want to see my country where the worlds 5th largest tycoon “Mukesh ambani” builds up 1 billion $ 35 floor tower besided world largest slum.

    I wish we have corporates like Tata,Azeem premji who have social corporate responsibility.
    As an individual,its duty of every one of us to help every poor of our country.Recommend

  • amna

    superb…made me feel proud…!!! :)Recommend

  • Abdul-Mughis Rana, Lahore.

    May ALLAH SWT keep us all happy & giving to the rightful, Aameen! Wonderful article! May we all have many instances where we give only for sake of ALLAH SWT and take out zakat and distribute it properly then a time will come we will not see any beggars around instead we will meet distributors of zakat, khairat for the sake of ALLAH SWT, Insha ALLAH! Recommend

  • Arshad

    But unforfunately we are not true to the govt. Tax evasion is common mainly because of distrust.

    Check this out:
    Jitney Dollar mein biktay hain yeh deen farosh
    Issy ziyada tou hum naam per Maula kay luta detay hain
    — Raza SirsaviRecommend

  • Zoaib

    Nice article! This is one of our strengths. You might also have come across a study by the Aga Khan foundation:


    A quote from the same:

    “Given that Pakistan is a poor country with meagre resources, its per capita giving is phenomenal. For example, the US has a per capita income 59 times larger than Pakistan but the ratio of total giving to per capita income in the US is only twice as large as in Pakistan.”

    The question for us all then is why do we have one of the lowest tax-to-GDP ratio in South Asia? The nation is willing to give, but there is a serious trust deficit which needs to be filled.Recommend

  • Rehan Ali

    Thank you very much faryal. The piece really made my morning :)Recommend

  • http://www.usamakhilji.wordpress.com Usama Khilji

    “Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime”.Recommend

  • http://Karachi Anwar Hasan

    Of-course we are the most charitable nation….WE DO NOT PAY OUR TAXES!
    Instead of paying 10-20% income tax to the government, we pay 2.5% zakat. That is a good deal. Recommend

  • parvez

    Nicely written. You have touched upon the societal aspect of charity and giving – gives one a feel good moment.
    Now come to the larger picture of us as a nation of beggars – gives one a truly depressing moment. ( Sorry I just had to bring this up )Recommend

  • Ahmed

    @parvez, I disagree, we are not a nation of beggars – Its our leaders, past and present, that are beggars. Recommend

  • Tariq

    feeling proud. it is pride for our nationRecommend

  • http://natashasuleman.wordpress.com Natasha Suleman

    Most Pakistanis are generous. Eidhi Sahab takes no government donations and yet is one of the greatest philanthropists the world has ever produced. Couldnt have been possible without Pakistanis.

    A refreshing piece indeed. Hardly get to read postive stuff these days..Recommend

  • parvez

    @Ahmed: Technically you are right. Try explaining that to the world.Recommend

  • http://www.rankmeme.com Ali

    We are indeed a charitable nation. We live and survive on charities. No one is willing to work hard!Recommend

  • Mirza

    The richest man in America Warren Buffett has recently donated his 99% of money to Charities. Nobody in human history has donated this much money and such high % to charity. He has his own kids but according to him, they are on their own and can make a good living.
    In addition, Bill Gates of Microsoft (another philanthropist) and Buffett have persuaded more than 50 billionaires of America to donate at least one billion $ to charity. They have also made trips to India and China to put their rich people to shame and convince them to spend some money on poor and needy. In Pakistan and India the amount of money rich people spend on the weddings is obscene, to say the least. In the richest country of the world, most middleclass people invite a few dozen people in the wedding. Please read this article and keep your mind open. Thanks and regards

  • Amit

    Such genorousity and responsibililty towards society.. Wonderful.. Appreciate Pakistanis … Big at Heart !!!Recommend

  • yo yo maan

    USA is behind Pakistan in charity because it gives AID to places like Pakistan which is charity .Out of this Mega charity Pakistani Government gives charity to the people of Pakistan who in turn give charity to Edhi etc etc …Recommend

  • amna

    @Mirza: No one has denied that there are many other great examples of charities and may be better stories than what faryal has mentioned, but its these little examples we need to present to the world to show pakistan is more than terrorism, slums and corruption. stop praising the west for once and concentrate on ur own country.Recommend

  • Mustafa Younus

    if everybody takes his personal responsibility that this will give a marginal boost in our environment…….like no body realized that how a lady in the fields pick the grain or rice by carrying her child on her back (GOD), how a cow or chicken sacrifice just for the sake of us … apart……..reflecting to my point i have heard in last jumm’a prayers that” if a person is liable to pay zakat in the month of jan but he waits till the ramadan just coz that he will be having more sawab in ramdan my paying zakat rather than in jan….the tenure between june and ramdan if any one looter some1 or borrow some amount from anyone against interest than the sinner is the person who is not paying the zakat in the month he is liable to…..

    the charity foundations (abdul sattar edhi chhipa and many more) are doing exactly well but what if they produce some jobs rather by offering free of cost lunch or dinner , coz u know a labor who is having wage 500 per day also having at the same place where a beggar having……..Recommend