Fellows strongly oppose to close down self-sustaining Lead Pakistan

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ISLAMABAD, DEC 6 (DNA) – The Fellows of Leadership for Environment and Development (LEAD Pakistan) who are the leading professionals in different sectors have strongly condemned the decision of the LEAD Pakistan Board of Governors (BoG) to close it down.

Speaking at a webinar on Saturday they termed it the “conspiracy of some pseudo-intellectuals playing black sheep to shut down the doors of 27-year old self-sustaining think tank on climate change when it is needed the most”. They pointed out that the organization has cash reserves of PKR 140 million in addition to the tangible and intangible assets and a national and international repute.

LEAD Pakistan is the only self-sustaining chapter out of 13 funded by the Rockefeller Foundation that has emerged as an indigenous national think tank. Some 12 have already been closed down after the Rockefeller Foundation stopped funding them in 2000.

The webinar was organized by the Development Communications Network (Devcom-Pakistan) in collaboration with the LEAD Fellows Network on “Sustainability of Lead Pakistan – a case of nonprofit governance” Saturday late evening.

Devcom-Pakistan Executive Director Munir Ahmed said usually the Board members of a Nonprofit Organization (NPO) are supposed to strengthen their respective organization. Pakistan Centre for Philanthropy (PCP) also guides the NPOs to have ‘reputable and visionary professionals on the Board that shall lead the organization towards sustainability with their oversight and guidance to the chief executive or executive director’.

The Board members of Lead Pakistan are acting contrary to the set rules and scope of the BoG despite the fact that organization has sufficient funds to survive in the period of ongoing financial crunch. It is deliberate and intentional murder of a living and self-sustaining organization.

The present BoG of Lead Pakistan is chaired by Dr Iqrar Ahmad Khan who has been restored by the Lahore High Court as Vice Chancellor of the University of Agriculture Faisalabad despite Punjab’s anti-corruption department and NAB cases of financial embezzlement of more than PKR 420 million against him. Other members include former Member National Assembly (MNA) Malik Uzair Khan, LUMS vice chancellor Dr Arshad Ahmad, LUMS Associate Professor Dr Mohammad Abubakr, Senior Legal Consultant Privatization Commission Ikram ul Haque Qureshi, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE) Vice Chancellor Dr Nadeem ul Haque, and PACRA Managing Director Dr. Adnan Afaq.

Azhar Qureshi, a LEAD Pakistan Fellow and the CEO of Eco-conservation Initiatives, said the Lahore High Court Rawalpindi Bench has served a notice to all the LEAD Pakistan board members and management for not implementing the orders of the Registrar of Societies that were issued on the instructions of the Lahore High Court two months back.

He said “the Orders have asked the LEAD Pakistan board to convene a meeting of Fellows to discuss the crisis, but the BoG has totally ignored the legal orders that is contempt of court”.

He said this is the first time in 27 year that board members have forced the Lead Pakistan CEO to resign on the pretext of a huge salary and failing to secure any projects in the time of financial crunch.

They are trying tactfully to handover all the Lead Pakistan resources to the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) on a proposal moved by Shahzan Wazir Ali to grab the lavish resources the organization has.

Dr Saeed Ismail, CEO of HNADS, termed the crisis created by the LEAD Pakistan board members as a sorry state of affairs by the ‘custodians’ who were supposed to strengthen the organization. The issues were not so big or unresolvable. The Board members mishandled the merely a small challenge to a big crisis that might have some multiple hidden vested interests which are not expressed publicly.

Before taking any decision, the Fellows should have been taken on board by the BoG that was not actually done. Secondly, it was strange to see the derogatory tweets against Fellows by Dr Nadeem ul Haq, the Vice Chancellor PIDE. The entire scenario shows an extreme mindset against a living organization and its Fellows.

Speaking from Amman (Jordan), a Lead Pakistan Fellow Rana Akhal said the organization has played a key role in professional training of young environmentalists across countries under the leadership of Ali Tauqeer Sheikh who was forced to resign. He was the one who started the Pakistan chapter of LEAD and strengthened it to a dignified think tank on climate change. The BoG should respect the court orders and engage with the Fellows to restore its position. The funds should be seized until formal functioning of the organization.

She suggested having mediators to resolve the conflicting situation between the BoG and the Fellows.

In a separate statement, well-known environmentalist and former Director General Asif Shuja Khan has termed the situation a grave concern for the nonprofit sector in Pakistan. The situation reflects that even the worthy names on the board of an organization can play tricks contrary to their obligations.

Gutting an organization of national and international repute should be a matter of concern for all in the development sector. They should raise their voices against the situation. He asked for a judicial probe into the matter.=DNA

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