NEW YORK: Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Maleeha Lodhi has said that Pakistan needs welfare organizations that help confront the forces of darkness and contribute to spreading the light of education in the Country.
Speaking at a largely-attended event in Hicksville, a suburb of New York City, Maleeha Lodhi said that Akhuwat, which dispenses interest-free micro-finance among the needy, was one such organization helping Pakistani people to stand on their own feet.
“It (Akhuwat) believes in human dignity,” said Ambassador Lodhi who was the chief guest at a dinner held for Dr. Amjad Saqib, the visiting founder of Akhuwat.
Like many other non-profit organizations, including the Citizens Foundation and DIL, Akhuwat was an excellent vehicle for the Pakistani diaspora to give back to their country, the Pakistani envoy said.
Pakistan, she noted, embraces the world’s most charity-giving cultures as its people are generous. No wonder the country was regarded as among the world’s top nations in terms of giving charity.
“We have many challenges and problems,” the ambassador said, adding, “But we must also count our blessings, and acknowledge what we do well — giving charity.”
“While we keep exercising our right to subject ourselves to criticism, it would be a greater national duty if we are able to change what we are criticizing,” she said.
“Indeed,” the ambassador added, “the highest form of patriotism is to become agents of change and help the underprivileged in our society.”
“Akhuwat embodies that value,” she told a cheering audience.
She paid tributes to the leadership of Dr. Saqib, the Akhuwat’s founder, saying his commitment had helped change the destiny of thousands of his countrymen.
Dr. Saqib, she said, has also managed to create a team of committed people to work for Akhuwat that has helped the organization to expand exponentially.
Starting with only Rs. 10,000, Akhuwat’s feat of distriubuting more than Rs. 37.8 billion in just 10 year period, benefiting around two million families speaks of it success. And a recovery rate, she pointed out was a phenomenal 99.91 percent.
The ambassador expressed appreciation for Akuwat’s vision of a poverty-free society by empowering socially and economically marginalized segments of the society through interest-free micro-finance.
She also lauded Akhuwat’s move to implement the Prime Minister Interest Free Loan Scheme aiming at providing small loans to the poor throughout country. Similar programmes of the governments of Punjab and Gilgit-Baltistan were also outsourced to Akhuwat, she said, noting that more than one million poor families have benefited from these programmes.
Ambassador Lodhi called Akuwat’s initiative for a truly national and fee-free university, with 20 percent students form each province, a “dream project” under which students would pay back after 10 years.
Earlier, Dr. Amjad Saqib gave a progress report of his organization ad elaborated its future aims and objects.