PILER Envisions A Just And Equitable Society: Zulfiqar Ali Shah

By: Shahzad Ali Shah

Zulfiqar Ali Shah, born on 20th July, 1969 at village Wanjheri Sharif, Matiari. He is currently working as Joint Director with Pakistan Institute of Labor Education and Research (PILER).

“Long behind Schedule” is his latest research report (2007) which highlighted the plight of scheduled caste Hindus in Pakistan.

Prior to joining PILER in 2005, Mr Shah worked with The News International, a leading English daily of Pakistan.

In January 2005, he was awarded “Loenzo Natali Prize” by European Commission for writing on human rights and democracy.

Mr Shah holds a Masters degree in International Relations. He is a researcher and activist.

Q: NGOs claim to root out social evils, how do you view it?

A: NGOs are playing very important role in highlighting the issues which used to be hidden, particularly issues related to human rights violations. Different sections of the society should come forward and work together.

Q: What is difference in education system of Sindh and Punjab?

A: I don't think that there is big difference in education systems in Punjab and Sindh. Generally situation in Pakistan is bad and it get worse in rural Pakistan be it Punjab or Sindh. Other issue is that education has become a commodity so those who can afford can buy it and those who can't are let behind. If you evaluate then you will see that 50% of Pakistan's population is illiterate even in this 21st century. Poor people are more illiterate than well off.

Q: What's your NGO doing?

A:  Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER), established in 1982, is a not-for-profit, non-government, citizen sector organization engaged in research, training and advocacy in the areas of labor rights and labor legislation, social justice and human development, and regional solidarity and peace.

PILER envisions a just and equitable society where fundamental rights of people are respected, ensured and guaranteed. In line with achieving its mission, PILER aims to promote a democratic and effective labor movement enabling people to exercise their core rights. We focus on strengthening people's organizations at the workplace and in their communities in their struggles to push market, society and state towards the economic justice of realizing secure and prosperous livelihoods.

Q: How do you see media role in development?

A: Media has very important role in development. It can influence the policy makers for a development which is sustainable and pro people. It can also play a role of watchdog and monitor the progress and performance.

Q: What is difference between media and NGO?

A: Media is a medium where as NGOs are non governmental organizations. Many NGOs depend on media for the implementation of their agenda. This way there is close relation between two but no comparison can be made.  Both have different role to play. I think there is need for more cooperation and liaison between NGOs and media so that they can take up some joint initiatives for the uplift of common people.