Find Civil Society expertise in Pakistan

Civil society in Pakistan is broadly divided into two categories, organised and unorganised. The unorganised sector is made up small informal and mostly unregistered bodies that work with local communities. The organised sector consists of larger registered and unregistered national, regional and common initiative umbrella non-governmental organisations (NGOs). As of 2004, there were over 40,000 registered and unregistered active civil society organisations (CSOs).

The bulk of the work carried out by CSOs is in education. Many of them have helped set up formal schools, particularly primary schools. This includes the internationally renowned NGOs such as the Care Foundation. Others are setting up and running women and adult literacy centres imparting basic literacy and numeracy skills to their members.

The devastating 2005 South Asia Earthquake left over three million people without homes and killed 70,000 people. The Joint Action Committee (JAC) of NGOs, a combined network of major NGOs, provided shelter, food, medicine, clothing, and other essential items to millions of injured and homeless people.

NGOs do not have to register to perform charitable, welfare or developmental work; however registration carries its natural benefits such as opening bank accounts and qualifying for financial assistance from local and international government agencies. NGOs can register under the following acts and ordinances: The Voluntary Social Welfare Agencies Registration and Control Ordinance 1961, The Societies Registration Act 1860, The Cooperative Society Act 1925, The Companies Ordinance 1984 (as a non-profit company) or The Trust Act, 1882. The multitude of international NGOs presented in Pakistan work towards various aims including disaster relief and educational development. Some organisations which have created a presence in the country following the floods in 2010 are Medecins Sans Frontieres and the Disasters Emergency Committee.

Almost a million workers are represented by various trade unions in the country, most of them being members of the umbrella union, Pakistan Workers’ Federation (PWF). The formation and regulation of trade unions are legislated by The Industrial Relations Ordinance (2002).