Skin deep: Sindh govt wants a cut in earnings from animal hides

Sindh Minister for Local Bodies Syed Nasir Shah has instructed all political parties and welfare organisations collecting animal hides to set aside a certain percentage of their earnings to give to the government, which will in turn use it to aid victims of terrorism.

The instructions have, however, received a lukewarm response at best as the respective organisations feel they are being coerced into following the directives.

On Wednesday, the representatives of all welfare organisations collecting hides in Karachi apparently agreed to give a share of their earnings to help victims of terrorism. Shah told The Express Tribunethat a committee, under the supervision of the Commissioner, with representatives from all welfare organisations, will identify the victims of terrorism in need of monetary assistance. “It has not yet been decided the amount to be collected from these organisations but it could be 10 to 15 per cent of their earnings,” he said, adding that all organisations that are signatory to the code of conduct, such as Khidmat-e-Khaliq Foundation (KKF), Al-Khidmat Foundation, Ahle Sunnat Khidmat Committee, Saylani Welfare Trust, Dawat-e- Islami, Falah-e-Insaniyat Foundation, All Pakistan Memon Federation, Al-Mustafa Welfare and Indus Hospital, agreed.

Some, however, spoke up against what they believed to be a bullying tactic by the provincial government. The Edhi Foundation, which has been collecting the animal hides since 1949, rejected the idea.

“If the government wants to impose such a condition, they should pass a law in the Sindh Assembly. Who is the minister to take this decision?” said its spokesperson, Anwar Kazmi. Kazmi said there was no such condition inked on the document.

Kazmi pointed out that it was the government’s responsibility to help the families affected by terrorism and target killings, adding that it could not bind welfare organisations to take up its responsibility.

“We have a large network of ambulances. We don’t make much money in collection of animal hides and we are already struggling with the finances.” The condition is not present in the government’s code of conduct or Ijazat nama, which has been signed by parties and NGOs before being granted approval to collect hides. Welfare organisations have been verbally instructed to deposit the amount to the government’s fund for terrorism and violence victims.

Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM)’s welfare organisation, Khidmat-e-Khalq Foundation, one of the biggest players in the collection of animal skins in the city, says it will follow the rules set by the law and the Constitution. “We already help those affected by natural disasters and terrorism. We will do whatever is permissible under the law,” said Aminul Haq, the MQM spokesperson, not declaring openly whether or not they will accept the condition.

Ghulam Rasool from Jamia Binoria, who attended the meeting, said that they had rejected the government’s decision. “We told them that every year, Zakat is deducted from banks accounts but we don’t know where it is being spent. Similarly, we don’t know where this money will go to.”

He said that it was the government’s responsibility to provide assistance to victims and not the duty of welfare organisations.  “We will continue to collect skins and hope there will be no hurdle,” he hoped.

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