Civil so­ci­ety and NGOs

Pakistan Observer - - OPINION - Email: hadi­ma­yar@ya­ Ab­dul Hadi Ma­yar

THE so­cial up­heaval in the West dur­ing past cen­turies gave birth to mod­ern democ­ra­cies, in which not only the rights of all mem­bers of the so­ci­ety were man­i­festly de­fined but each mem­ber was ob­li­gated to play ac­tive role in col­lec­tive well­be­ing of the state and so­ci­ety. Later, when the role of the state was re­stricted un­der the con­cept of lib­er­al­ism and so­cial democ­racy and a vac­uum emerged be­tween the in­di­vid­ual and the state, a need felt for pro­mot­ing col­lec­tive good by the in­di­vid­u­als on vol­un­tary ba­sis and with­out the in­volve­ment of the state. This was the time when the con­cept of civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions [CSOs] de­vel­oped and nu­mer­ous vol­un­tary groups came into the arena to fill the gap. Later, ter­mi­nolo­gies of non-govern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tion [NGOs] and In­ter­na­tional non-govern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tions [INGOs] came in vogue dur­ing the last cen­tury.

With the pas­sage of time, the in­sti­tutes of civil so­ci­ety and civil so­ci­ety or­ga­ni­za­tions not only gained strength but also pro­lif­er­ated be­yond state fron­tiers and evolved into gi­gan­tic re­gional and in­ter­na­tional groups, each work­ing in spe­cific fields and for the ac­com­plish­ment of cer­tain ob­jec­tives.

In the post-Cold War era, when po­lar­iza­tion en­gulfed world pol­i­tics, in­ter­na­tional har­mony and co­he­sion be­came its ma­jor ca­su­alty. Though a le­git­i­mate cam­paign for en­sur­ing global peace and sta­bil­ity, the war on ter­ror cre­ated a de­gree of mis­trust be­tween the West and the con­ser­va­tive seg­ments in the Mus­lim so­ci­eties. True or false, the trum­pet of the Clash of Civ­i­liza­tion also added fuel to the dis­trust. What­ever gap was left was filled by the so-called Great Games of eco­nomic in­ter­ests, the clash of trade and en­ergy cor­ri­dors, and global po­lit­i­cal ven­tures to change re­gional ge­ogra­phies.

Be­sides other ills, the en­su­ing mis­trust cre­ated skep­ti­cism about the role of the in­ter­na­tional CSOs, par­tic­u­larly those funded by the West­ern pow­ers. There have also been in­stances and ac­cu­sa­tions of in­ter­na­tional NGOs in­volved in un­der­hand ac­tiv­i­ties and even fund­ing of non-state mil­i­tant groups in the de­vel­op­ing coun­tries – a charge that can be shrugged off on the plea that any­thing is pos­si­ble in the present messy state of af­fairs when ter­ror groups and those abet­ting and fi­nanc­ing mil­i­tancy do suc­ceed to in­fil­trate en­ti­ties where­from they can func­tion safely. While the or­ga­niz­ers of th­ese groups ought to keep vigil on el­e­ments try­ing to mis­use their set-ups, state se­cu­rity or­ga­ni­za­tions also need to thor­oughly watch move­ments in di­verse fields.

Prime need for all in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions in the pre­vail­ing at­mos­phere of mis­trust is to adopt a holis­tic, in­te­grated, and ide­o­log­i­cally vi­able ap­proach for the bet­ter­ment of all hu­man be­ings. While fo­cus­ing on hu­man de­vel­op­ment in­dices, there should be a re­al­iza­tion to cre­ate a civ­i­lized and ‘di­ver­si­fied’ in­ter­na­tional or­der. Any at­tempt to al­le­vi­ate poverty ought to pro­pel so­cio-po­lit­i­cal aware­ness among the lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties. The aim of any vol­un­tary un­der­tak­ing must not be merely the ma­te­rial well-be­ing of lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties but also their vol­un­tary in­te­gra­tion into a global or­der.

Mis­giv­ings of cer­tain cir­cles about the bias of in­ter­na­tional bod­ies to­wards par­tic­u­lar re­li­gions, re­gions and na­tions need to be re­moved. Ir­re­spec­tive of the ur­gency to pro­mote global eth­i­cal stan­dards, there must be ap­pre­ci­a­tion for na­tional, re­li­gious, and cul­tural val­ues of lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties. This would not only raise the stature and cre­den­tials of in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions but also boost their clout in the eyes of the lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties. — The writer is a free­lance jour­nal­ist based in Is­lam­abad.

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