ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi on Thursday said that because governments across the world are not able to fill every single gap in the development process, NGOs in all countries play a vital role in fulfilling major needs of development.
Speaking at the 25th anniversary celebrations of Strengthening Participatory Organisation (SPO), an NGO, here at the National Library auditorium, the president appreciated the contribution made by SPO in reaching out to poor and disadvantaged people living in the remote areas of 75 districts across the country for the last 25 years.
The president said that in a global era of extreme inequality and huge disparities in wealth and income between very small number elites and billions of people, SPO’s commitment to capacity building and training for gainful livelihoods became particularly relevant.
He also appreciated the efforts of the organisation in encouraging dialogue, support respect and tolerance with special reference to the rights of religious minorities, women and children.
He urged SPO to also explore the scope for its activism in critical sectors such as balanced population growth, climate change and improved healthcare.
The simple but colourful event was attended by parliamentarians, provincial legislators, government officials, senior diplomats, civil society activists, grassroots community women representatives, academics and media specialists.
The president said the government has launched several initiatives at the federal and provincial levels to improve citizens’ access, especially for the poor and marginalised, to secure their fundamental rights to basic services.
President Arif Alvi said he was happy to learn of SPO’s efforts to improve governance, equity, social justice and peace.
SPO Chairperson former senator Javed Jabbar presented an overview of the organisation’s vision and its evolution over the last 25 years.
He thanked the Canadian High Commission in Pakistan for facilitating the launch of SPO in 1994 as an independent, Pakistan-based NGO.
Mr Jabbar identified 11 guiding principles of SPO and said it entered the next phase with three challenges, including the new uncertainty and insecurity facing NGOs, the need to mobilise indigenous funding support to reduce dependence on overseas donors and to enter new realms of endeavour while retaining its core values.
SPO Co-Vice Chairperson Arifa Mazhar focused her speech on the empowerment of women residing in rural areas. She said SPO had provided training to thousands of women in leadership and livelihood projects.
President Dr Arif Alvi gave a Lifetime Achievement Award to member SPO Board of Directors Syed Abid Rizvi in recognition of his longstanding commitment to SPO ideals.
Other speakers included Acting Canadian High Commissioner Elizabeth Baldwin-Jones, National Commission on the Status of Women Chairperson Khawar Mumtaz and Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund Chief Executive Qazi Azmat Isa. All of them appreciated the services being rendered by SPO in diverse aspects of development.