Punjab Government Bans All Relief Efforts by NGOs. Who Will Feed the Needy Now?

In a serious of decisions that the existing government is making – a lot of people have began to question Imran Khan ability to lead the country through this pandemic. Now, in a latest turn of events, the Punjab Government has banned all relief work done by charity organisations under the pretext of “violating social distancing”. According to the order, all philanthropic activities by an individual, organisation or any other entity should be carried out through the PDMA which shall organise the same under standards and protocols set by the government, said the statement.

“At a time when charity needs to be encouraged, the Punjab government has attempted to strangulate all forms of help to the needy. Apparently, it is being done in order to prevent violation of social distancing.”

The authority has decided to route all philanthropic activities by any individual, organisation or any other entity in Punjab through the PDMA which shall organise the same under standards and protocols set by the government. The order states: “If any individual, organisation or any other entity, who or which intends to undertake philanthropic activity on its own, shall submit an application to the deputy commissioner in whose jurisdiction the philanthropic activity is proposed. The deputy commissioner shall determine the mode, mechanism, area and extent of the philanthropic activity with appropriate checks for conformity with the government guidelines regarding COVID-19, under intimation to the PDMA.”

However, what the government does not realise is that the whole process of registering for NOCs and receiving it is a lengthy one, and even if it is expedited, the poor and needy will continue to receive no aid while the government feels the need to put down more SOPs and processes. Moreover, what guarantee is there that the NOC holders will comply by the government rules of social distancing?

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There has been a lot of speculation if this is indeed happening because the government wants to promote their own Coronavirus Tiger Force. Jamaat-e-Islami (JIP) Deputy Chief Liaqat Baloch indicated that the government was afraid of generous relief activities of Al-Khidmat Foundation and other such organisations involved in organised philanthropic and relief activities. “The government wants to promote its so-called Coronavirus Tiger Force on the pretext of mere violations,” he said.

While we don’t downplay the need for social distancing at the moment, it is also quite difficult to see that our provincial government has felt the need to ban relief work in a time when the daily wagers and poor are starving. We wonder when politics ends and humanity begins!

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