off record
Shaukat Ali Jawaid


Dr. Amjad Saqib and


Dr. Afzal Javed a Pakistani psychiatrist settled in UK is a very dear friend for the last over three decades. Once during a visit to UK to attend the Midland Psychiatric Research Group annual meeting, while having dinner at his residence, he told me that his younger brother Dr. Amjad Saqib had resigned from Civil Service and was now involved in social work by starting a microfinance scheme.  You must meet him sometime and listen to his success story.  Later when Prof. Haroon Rashid Chaudhry died at a young age, it was Dr. Amjad Saqib who was selected to manage the affairs of Fountain House Lahore founded by late Prof. Mohammad Rashid Chaudhry.  Early this year, I had a brief meeting with Dr. Amjad Saqib at the psychiatric conference dinner held at Fountain House when Dr.Afzal Javed formally introduced him.  Speaking at the occasion, Dr.Amjad Saqib gave details how the further expansion of facilities and services at Fountain House has been planned. Not only that but Fountain House has also been established at Sargodha. Information brochure about Akhuwat was also distributed among the participants which had glimpses of its working and the plans to establish the Akhuwat University which made an interesting reading and was quite impressive.

Pakistan is perhaps the only  country in the world  where its media in general and electronic medical in particular takes pleasure in projecting the negative  image of the country, it seldom finds time to project  the good work being done by a large number of institutions, organizations and individuals like Akhuwat and Dr.Amjad Saqib.  There is no denying the fact that we do have some problems like terrorist activities and serious law and order situation but similar problems were faced by many countries in the world. They solved them and we will find a solution too and it may take some time. However, it does not mean that we keep on projecting a negative image of the country all the time and do not highlight the positive aspects.  However, it is heartening to note that a  few well known columnists have of course highlighted the commendable job being done by Akhuwat in alleviation of poverty through microfinance scheme known as Qarz-e- Hasna.

It was for the first time that on May 1st, I had a chance to listen to the success story of Akhuwat from its founder Dr. Amjad Saqib who had come to Karachi to formally establish its branch in Sindh Province. Mr. S.M. Muneer chief of Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) and an eminent business man was the chief guest while the meeting was also graced with their presence by former Governor State Bank of Pakistan Dr.Ishrat Hussain, present Deputy Governor of State Bank Mr. Saeed besides many businessmen, representatives of various NGOs and people from different walks of life including those affiliated with Akhuwat. Mr. Anwar Maqsood moderated the session and living up to his reputation did amuse the audience with his off and on remarks. Dr.Ishrat Hussain, Mr. Saeed, Mr. S.M. Muneer and other speakers commended the work being done by Akhuwat which was a testimony to the fact that now Akhuwat has earned credibility not only all over Pakistan but overseas as well.

Everyone was keen to listen to Dr. Amjad Saqib and when he started narrating the story how it all started, there was a pin drop silence and he mesmerized every one present.  It was one of the best speech I have ever heard which had shaken the conscience of every one present. Referring to the comments made by Mr. Anwar Maqsood about the dream the Poet of the East Dr. Allama Iqbal had seen, Dr. Amjad Saqib said that those who see the dreams cannot sleep. These dreams do not allow them to sleep because then they get busy to realize their dreams. That is exactly what had happened with him, he stated. Since that day when the poor lady who came to me for assistance, refused to take loan on interest and also showed him the alternate of Qarze-e-Hasna, I and my colleagues in Akhuwat are busy in realizing our dream of  eliminating poverty from this country. The inspiration for all this came from the Holy Prophet when he asked the people of Madina for sharing and compassion towards their brothers who had migrated from Makkah to Madinah. Something which started just as a humble effort to provide Qarze-e-Hasna to the needy ones has now flourished so much that so far Akhuwat has distributed sixteen billion rupees helping 8.5 lac families thereby helping sixty lac people.  The recovery rate Dr. Amjad Saqib said was 99.87%. We are working for creation and distribution of wealth, sharing resources and poverty.

Continuing Dr. Amjad Saqib said that mosque has been made the center of social work. The funds are distributed at a meeting in the nearby mosque where the branch office of Akhuwat is located.  Each and every word, he said, was inspiring since it came from his heart. He surprised every  one present when he disclosed that those whom Akhuwat had been helping in the past, were its donees, have now also become donors and last year they had donated 10.5 crore rupees to Akhuwat.  It is not only the money which they donated which matters but the fact that they all have actively joined this movement is amazing which ensures that this country has a great future. Since the payment cheques are distributed to the deserving in a mosque, it also has a moral pressure to return Qarz-e-Hasna.

The success story of Akhuwat is unique in many ways from other microfinance schemes being practiced in different countries because there is no interest involvement and no service charges are made either. The donees have to return the original amount without any interest in installments.  Dr. Amjad Saqib has  narrated this success story of Akhuwat at numerous forums at various places at home and abroad inviting them to come and see their work, meet the individuals and families who have been helped by Akhuwat before deciding to volunteer their services to work for Akhuwat and become donors. His speech was so convincing that the chief guest Mr. S.M.Muneer announced a donation of ten million rupees from his friends and five million from his own family which he said, will be paid in the first week of Ramzan. Mr. Muneer urged the people of Karachi to help Akhuwat so that this Karwan continues it journey helping the poor and needy.

Akhuwat is just one of the many NGOs which are doing a commendable job in different fields i.e. Health, Education and microfinance. As long as we have people like Dr. Amjad Saqib, we do not need to be pessimistic. Let us keep our spirits alive and help all such people, institutions, organizations in whatever way we can, donate what ever we can.  Most of us  are very lucky and God Almighty have given us enough, so let us make a pledge to share our  resources, income, joys with others who are not so lucky in our society and thus strengthen Pakistan.

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