Some days ago I met two acquaintances who were doing internship at a multinational company. They hesitated for a while after I inquired about nature of their job but later they revealed that “we go door to door in different areas of Lahore and make people aware about where they should put their garbage in proper place” (That company has also provided garbage dumps at innumerable places at Lahore). For instant, I liked the enlightening idea because one thing is for sure that we as a nation do not care about cleanliness of our surroundings. But next moment I was taken aback by a sense of inferiority, “the situation has got so worse that for taking care of our “garbage”, we have to collaborate with foreign countries”, I thought.

The World Bank defines a non-governmental organization (NGO) as "private organizations that pursue activities to relieve suffering, promote the interests of the poor, protect the environment, provide basic social services, or undertake community development". These all attributes which are defined as roles of NGOs, sounds more like duties of a particular government. Aren’t governments supposed to promote the interest of the poor? Protect the environment? Or provide basic human needs to its citizen?  If no then why we pay taxes? We should contribute all the tax money to NGOs and INGOs for our protection and basic needs.

When the incumbent government does not take potent steps to deal with such imperative matters, it provides a vacuum which is filled by such organizations. They almost behave like a watchdog or a link which helps people connect with the government or support them in different projects. Theoretically, it looks very substantial and every nongovernmental organization whether it’s local or international has its written goals and agendas and they usually go by rules. Practically, they don’t have a lasting impact and initiated projects become limited in scope.

There are many instances in which NGOs and international campaigns became the voice of suppressed, at many places they provide shelter to homeless, books to out of school children, medical facilities to health stricken people, security to needy women and so on but are we not facing the problem of poverty more than ever? Child labour and child abuse have taken its worse shape, rural women are still insecure and subjected to unchecked and unreported violence, children are still out of schools and health issues are not even close to be solved.

So, the question becomes that can we hold an educational welfare organization accountable for crippling situation of education? Can we ask any women activists that you are working for decades and raising your voice in favour of women rights, your organization has been granted with huge amount of funds but why we cannot see any substantial difference in the equation? In fact it has gotten worse. Unfortunately we cannot ask because they are not responsible for this, rather government is. Doesn’t it put a question mark on overall existence of such organization or why we should not think about the alternate settings because there are enough evidences that no organization is able to hit the target when it’s about solving the core issues of society.

Few days back, on a children’s literary festival, there was a panel discussion on quality of teaching in Pakistan, usual questions and answers were taking place when a European speaker really surprised me with his thoughts. During his speech, he pointed towards the sponsor hoarding background with logos of many local and international educational organizations and said, “You Pakistanis must realize that problem of education have indigenous roots and no foreign idea, brain or aid can solve this problem but you”.

“Foreign aid” we receive from the countries does not come without a baggage of tedious terms and conditions which are almost impossible to understand for a layman. But remember one thing, they recover their every penny this way or the other. That’s exactly why every Pakistani is subjected to a debt. Historically, so called governments of Pakistan not only exploited the masses directly but they have actually sold their miseries in the name of foreign projects.

The NGO’s should behave like watchdogs; those who have philanthropist tendency may volunteer themselves in service of humanity but in reality, such organization work hand in hand with government and those who join them are mostly derived by the material interests.

In recent times, the designers of such development programmes have become smarter and rather than organization they term the projects as “campaign”, with a limited time frame and certain objectives which are mostly intangible and those which are defined tangible are like needle in the hay straw.

. The present efforts by almost all the organizations are directionless. Moreover there is no way we can channelize the research or amount of work done on the same issue by different organizations.  The resources used by an organization may serve their agenda but unfortunately society as a whole never benefits from such projects as they lack a potential to bring probable solution to the table. It seems that watchdogs need to be watched.