Field Studies


November 8, 2018

By Fazal Amin Beg

This exploratory and analytical study I conducted in June 2013 (along side my engagement with AKRSP and a founding member and advisor of Gojal LSO Network) attempts to study critically the LSOs of Gojal in Hunza Valley and genuinely identify their issues, and suggest effective strategies for their long term sustainability. The data acquired for this report are mainly through discussions (general focus group) with the respective stakeholders in addition with attending meetings of the LSOs and LSO Network , Shia Ismaili councils, VWOs, workshops organized by KADO and participant observation.
In the background section of this study, AKRSP’s development intervention and its positive results from its inception in 1983 till June 2013 have been highlighted so that to know that how the development journey continues and to which direction. In the second section,an attempt has been made to analyse the situation around its objective and identify the key challenges and issues along with the contributing factors (causes) underlying with the respective organizations of the civil society. The third section deals with suggesting effective strategies against the identified issues/challenges.
AKRSP reached Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) for the first time in December 1982. It began its development intervention in Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral (GBC) in 1983. Starting its development models and ventures among the diverse mountain communities of GBC, AKRSP focused on two broad areas: soft or intangible side of development (sensitizing and preparing peoples mind) and hard or tangible side of development so to bring positive change in lives of downtrodden peoples in the gravely entrapped mountain societies. The campaigns intensively and extensively continued and in short span of time, more than 4,700 social organizations named village organizations (VOs) and women organizations (WOs) were formed in the entire GBC. Members of the village and women organizations (VWOs) were asked to weekly save money, to the extent they can afford, .
In other words, a brief but clear message to the commumities is seen: (1) Organize yourselves by forming your VO or WO (and choose the best for leading the organization); (2) save in your individual accounts of VWOs (i.e., raise your capital in cash); and (3) discuss democratically your collective issues (needs), develop consensus to address those needs (issues/problems) by formulating a formal/written project resolution (format of resolution was made available to each VWOs); and forward those resolutions organizationally to the AKRSP for necessary considerations and actions.
In this manner, under AKRSP’s patronization (though the VWOs were not any subsidiary organizations of AKRSP rather of the community), marvelous but rather revolutionary changes were seen in the entire GBC regions, in leser than 15 years, by building community’s capacity in enormous thematic areas; and developing productive physical infrastructures (PPIs) related with the holistic development needs such as link-roads, bridges, irrigation channels, agricultural lands’ leveling and so on). Besides, afforestation down to the constructed irrigation channels is a landmark in the entire GBC where millions of plantations (fruit and non-fruit/wild) emerged on the surface of mountain valleys. All these became possible when the commumities were positively mobilized, they took initiatives with overall facilitation of AKRSP.
Community mobilization campaigns thus continued (as a most integral part of community development) for organizational/social democratization cum governance in within the grassroots organizations (VWOs).
Consequently, the AKRSP’s program areas became a model and experimental laboratory of rural development to the entire Pakistan (e.g., RSPs), South Asia and the developing countries.
Strategic shift of AKRSP and formation of second generation of social organizations
In 2005, AKRSP opted to experiment another development model, the second generation (above the grassroots) of social organization with the name of Local Support Organizations (LSOs), umbrella and representative organizations with legal entity mostly at union council (UC) level in the local government’s administrative setup at grassroots level; and some LSOs however are found on watershed level keeping in view the scattered geographical area and their utmost needs.
The commumities of GBC, with facilitation of AKRSP have formed dozens of LSOs by now. As civil society organizations, the LSOs are striving to play their roles at grassroots level—although this experiment will take some time to fully immerse and get their grip in their respective society.
In Hunza valley, there are currently 14 LSOs (10 in Hunza and 4 in Nagar ) strving to work efficiently for their local communities. Within Hunza, 5 LSOs are in central part ; 1 in lower Hunza and 4 in upper Hunza. The LSOs of upper Hunza are called Mountain Area Support Organization (MASO), Gulmit; Gojal Rural Support Organization (GRSO), Sost; Chipursan Local Support Organization (CLSO), Kirmin; and the LSO-like Shimshal Nature Trust (SNT) in Shimshal Valley.
Due to emergence of the Attabad (formerly known as Ghareyat) disaster on January 4, 2010 (when the monstrous rockslide destroyed the tiny village and blocked the Hunza river and Karakoram Highway: KKH), the upper part (Gojal) got cut-off not only from its lower part of Hunza but also from the rest of GB and Pakistan. To the north, the political boundaries of the two nation states, China and Afghanistan, remained legal barriers to intermingle with the human communities so to continue their normal life businesses.
Attabad Disaster and Alliance of the LSOs in Upper Hunza
Although, the community of upper Hunza got further marginalization in many respects, in the face of this continous disaster, this however brought an positive opportunity for the LSOs to come together and form their network in order to have coordinated and concerted efforts along with political advocacy at the valley level. These LSO thus formed their network with the name of Gojal LSO Network (GOLSON).
The LSOs of Gojal (Upper Hunza) are called MASO (Mountain Area Support Organization), GRSO (Gojal Rural Support Organization) and CLSO (Chipursan Local Support Organization). There is still another LSO-like community organization of Shimshal called SNT (Shimshal Nature Trust), formed in 1990s; but more work needs to be carried out in order to bring it in par with full status of LSO (according to AKRSP’s definition).
Objectives/Purpose of the Study
i) Explore and identify genuine issues and their casuses in relation with strengthening the LSOs;
ii) Look for the effective and practicable solutions around the identified issues so that to address them effectively.
Formation of the LSOs in the entire GBC is not only ideal but are also practicably organizational structures in many ways representing the local communities of the region and cater the needs of the people in an effective manner. These LSOs are meant to improve themselves in different ways and with the course of time should become as semi-AKRSP. This means to work professionally and in scientific manner.
The LSOs in upper Hunza (Gojal) are taken as a case to see that how they function and what are the dynamics that effect (positively or negatively) the organizations so that the lessons could be learnt and improvements could be brought not only within the LSOs of Gojal but also to look for the generalizebility in other valleys and program areas/target communities.

Exploration, Identification and Analysis of Key Issues, their Causes and Effects
Series of genuine issues and their causes cum effects have been identified in result of remaining within the respective community for many years and working with the concerned LSOs and LSO Network (GOLSON) for a period of 3 years after the Attabad disaster in January 2010.
Being an AKRSP official, it was further interesting to collaborate with the LSOs and observe the situations practically. In result of longstanding presence among the community and organizations, some of the most important issues/challenges were identified that are as under.
Patronization gap of VWOs
After inception of village and women organizations (VWOs), like other valleys of GBC, AKRSP’s relevant staff members, especially the social organizers (now called mobilizers) and auditors would visit the VWOs times and again and maintain the states of affairs within VWOs. When the MicroFinanceBanks were initiated and these VWOs were channeled towards them, their patronization like the previous period badly suffered. AKRSP had its social and financial patronization of the VWOs; but in the later phase, during the MicroFinance period, there came up a commercial approach of dealing with their clients. Less or no attention was paid on the VWOs financial governance. Resultantly, nearly all VWOs either flopped, became inactive (dormant) or negative active (for personal gains of some office bearers. Very little VWOs like that of Ghulkin or WO Gulmit could be witnessed positively continuing all the way. The critiques are seen coming out of the community members on AKRSP for its unwise decision despite the fact that people need to understand also the ground realities pertaining to the respective VWOs and MicroFinanceBanks’ relationship with them.
When the model of LSO was introduced in the area, Gojal Rural Support Organization (GRSO) was the first that were made earlier in upper Hunza. Afterwards, Mountain Area Support Orgnaization (MASO) and Chipursan Local Support Organization (CLSO) followed with their mandates. All these LSOs heads/office bearers are seen not clear in the initial phases, that how they have to work with their partner organizations. Second, those office bearers, who seemed or seems clear do not have the management skill or otherwise.
Due to such gaps, clear messages do not trickle down to the VWOs. The members of the VWOs, representing their members in the LSO BOD or General Body seem or think themselves like lords or headmen instead of perceiving such opportunities of representation as opportunity of becoming devotional volunteers to serve their community dedicatedly and honestly.
The BOD or genral body members do not or canot realize that they have been chosen to ultimately earn the precious boon in the form of trust of the people. Consequently, big masses of gaps are seen between the LSOs and their pillars/foundation (VWOs and other local development organizations, shortly termed as LDOs).

Dearth of inclusiveness of opinions in the VWOs
After hardworking by the LSOs for couples of years after their establishment, almost all VWOs they have been re-activated. Two main approaches are seen in this regard by the community: either the old VWOs have been reactivated or new VWOs are seen formed when the community observed there are complicated financial issues involved. Some VWOs are seen got reactivation een before the formation of LSOs in the area. For instance, Odver and Kamaris VWOs of Gulmit are examples in such connection that are becoming a good model for others after learning lessons from their blunders and mismanagement.
But what we see on the ground is issue of inclusiveness, getting the members opinions clearly on their communal issues in a democratic way. There are issues also related with the annual general body meetings (AGMs) of most of the VWOs whereby the office bearers should present their annual progress and financial cum audit reports. Members views do not become inclusive in this regard; and some people (office bearers with few members) may decide exclusively. In such circumstances, taking ownership of any decision or project emerge.
Ineffective delivery of LSO Concept to the Community
In its initial stages, the office bearers of the LSOs did not or could not effecgtively deliver the conceptual message of the LSOs. Even AKRSP’s relevant staffs, while in the area after Attabad disaster, did not pay attention on this important theme. Resultantly, the community was unaware of the LSOs’ concepts and they considered it either organizations of the government, or IUCN (regarding conservation) or of the AKRSP instead of realizing that the LSOs were their own organizations. Although, many VWOs were reactivated from the dormancy but it was through selective contacts. Such phenomena thus led the VWOs, related or affiliated LDOs and/or community members in taking ownership of LSOs.
Internally existing socio-cultural constructs
GBC and the rural settings of Pakistan (like other related countries) have their own special socio-cultural constructs. Societies are based on kinship relationships (such as families, lineages, clans and tribes, moieties). Based on their specific livelihood approaches (agro-pastoralism). Having their wit, capitals and gallantry work (at communal level), political positions were also acquired or seized in the society. This led towards a special political constructs among the families, lineages, clans or tribes.
During the old days (princely state’s period), there were no significantly diffused or externally imposed parties. Rather in all villages, there were three classes of people: “foster relatives of the Mir” called zharzhon (in Wakhi), ushamsho (in Burushaski) or unilo (in Shina) consider as village elites (high tax payers and exempted from load carrying and forced laboring of the Mir); middle class called darqan (medium level tax payers but no forced laboring load carriers of the Mir; and lower class called borwar (porters), tax payers of low levl but load carriers and forced labors of the Mir. Same also holds true at least for the society of Nagar on the left bank of Hunza River.
Illustration of this brief social structures of the old days show us that how the societal change would have shaped after abolition of the princely states of Hunza and Nagar.
The previous autocracy/aristrocracy (principalities’ period in Hunza and Nagar comprised on the hierarchical ruling elite positions of mir, wazir, tranpas/arbobs) although ended up in the first half of 1970s with the abolition of Hunza and Nagar States, the tug-of-war between the then elites and commoners at village and entire Hunza level started.
Tue families, clan and class politics (traditional elitism and commoners versus currently emerging elitism and commoners), in addition with external ideologies continue till to-date having their significant scars and effects expressed covertly and sometimes overtly in the social institutions and organizations of the area (voluntary or professional).
It’s therefore important to be noted while AKRSP or any other organization wants to work with the local community organizations like VWOs and LSOs that will help them understand the internal dynamics of the valley in positive and holistic manner.
Kinship/Family and Ethno-linguistic Considerations (traditional and modern elitism versu commoners) and Priority in the Organizations
It is important to know that there are overall more than 100 clan/tribal groups embedded in the societies of Hunza and Nagar—which directly and indirectly in one way or othe influence the development projects and organizations. In upper Hunza (within the jurisdiction of GOLSON, there are over 40 clan and sub-clan groups immigrated mostly from different parts of Gilgit-Baltistan and then from Central Asia. Composition of three language groups (Wakhi, Burushaski and Dumaaki) is seen in the area. Unfortunately, such diversity is not practically yet realized as strength (though verbally people may talk about it). Consequently negative marks could be seen, at least clandestinely, in the organizations of the civil society.
It becomes only almost a half century when the communities of Hunza and Nagar have transformed themselves politically in another political system in the modern nation state (though GB is not yet legally part of the mainstream nation state).
In the context of Hunza , after a break of eight years, the scattered community got platforms (provided by AKRSP) with the name of VWOs where the community members of the valley could get/come around, discuss their issues, disagree and sometimes would quarrel with each other but learnt lessons how to come around compromise at broader communal interests. However, it takes long time for human behavior to change or transform immediately from one traditional setting of behavior to the other. Such family or kinship realtions are still given priority in different fields of development whether within organizations or otherwise. It is therefore important to take into accounts such hurdles to be encountered and effective strategies need to be devised.
Externally Political Ideologies: Acquired or Imposed
Externally political ideologies here refers—in contrast with the internally existing (innate) ideologies in tradition and based on famly/kinship compositions—the national or provintial level parties the country that have mainly their functions like fishing hook and cord/thread to control the people politically, although the region is not legally represented in the mainstream/political hub.
The phenomenon of external parties like Pakistan Muslim Leage Nawaz/Quid-e Azam (PML-N/Q), Pakistan Peoples Party (PML) and Mutahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) are seen in the vally’s politics.
In a sharp contrast, a segment of the society in the valley could be observed embracing internal political ideologies terming themselves as “nationalists” at GB level. These are particulary the educated and semi-educated youths and middle age group. Although, presence of this group cannot be ignored or denied, they are not in high high quantity as we could see for the national level political ideologies.
Hurdles towards a democratized and meritocratic Governance System
One of the expected results of forming the informal and formal institutions and organizations was to bring a positively democratized and meritocratic governance system. Though, a significant shift, in one way, has come up comparatively—when we see it cross with the traditional way of governance in the old days (principality’s period—a a great move is still required when we look at the current situation and availability of resources (human, financial, socio-political, cultural, natural) towards a positively democratized and meritocratized governance system to be introduced and maintained in the VWOs and LSOs. Unfortunately, there is a great dearth still. Reasons though vary (e.g., high level educated people’s out-migraition from the area) but could be efficiently managed towards and improved for meritocratized governance provided various biases/prejudices engrained in the human minds within the social structures (e.g., family elitism, clanism, tribalism, political idealism, nepotism, favoritism) are controlled at various levels. Due to such factors, hurdles are seen to bring positive change (despite the fact people claim they are well educated) not only in the VWOs and LSOs of the valley but also in various civil society organizations and NGOs functioning the region.
Regionalism and Religionism
The phenomena of regionalism and religionism is an overall disastrous issues. However this can also be contextually found in Hunza and Nagar. In upper Hunza (Gojal), there over 40 main and sub-villages inhabited by the diverse clan groups affiliated predominantly with the Shia Ismaili faith in Islam; while there are some households of people belonging to the Sunni and Shia (Twelvers) faiths as well.
Although, religionism in Hunza hasn’t got its tight grip in the society; but village politics could be seen high. The model of LSO is a great structural initiative that literally combines many villages together for their collective causes and join them in an effective commune.

Issues of meritocratization: selection of human resources
Various aspects I already highlighted in the above section, so same holds true also in this section, especially how and what types of people need to be chosen for running the organizations of the civil society like LSOs and other organizations.
There is dearth of fair eligibility criteria/guidelines of selection at various levels in the VWOs and LSOs for the office bearers of VWOs and LSOs in the area. People are nominated against some individuals’ personal likeness or dislikeness or other kinds of affiliated relations (not highly educated, familial, clan/tribal, friendship, political ideologies). Due to such preferences, meritocratic and pluralistic people are not in the mainstream/loop of directing and governing the LSOs and VWOs.
Board of Directors (BOD)
A Chairman of a BOD of an LSO needs a capable secretary at voluntary level; and a competent manager at management level. When both are incompetent, apart from other team members, an LSO may not be able to move forward with the desired strengths in a sustainable way.
What could we see in the context of LSOs in upper Hunza is lack or absence of such team leaders/members at the BOD and management levels, especially in MASO and CLSO. GRSO is somehow relatively subsisting and progressing better than the two other LSOs. Shimshal Nature Trust (SNT) is an exceptional case as still it hasn’t the full role of an LSO but more complications are found there in Shimshal with VWOs and SNT. The socio-political dynamics, discussed above, also prevail there but with further severity—despite the fact that all community members of Shimshal descend from the same apical ancestor (familial, lineal and clan politics along with the external political ideologies are grave). One of the reasons in this regard is less social mobilization campaign in the initial and later days of AKRSP whereby to address the dire need of social organization (VWOs). Reportedly only twice then social organizer(s) could manage to go to Shimshal due to its geographically cut-off position having more than 30 river and glacial fords to be crossed. It was in 2002 whereby for the first time the road-link was established and the vehicles could ply over to the valley. This ultimately suffers the social organization of the civil society.
Management Team of LSOs
The management team of the LSOs in upper Hunza are not competent enough (except for GRSO that may not be termed ideal but are far better than the other two full LSOs). GRSO has its management team including a manager, a social mobilizer and an accountant/account officer).
CLSO has a manager and the account officer was drawn out due to unavailability of financial resources.
MASO had in its initial phase a manager, a social mobilizer and a part-time accountant but sooner then the staff was reduced (manager and accountant); while the social mobilizer is also not present (a staff with this name is present but he performs task of paid secretary).
What could be better envisioned for the LSOs if such situations prevails where management teams are either not present or incompetent to mobilize resources in collaboration with the BOD; and where the voluntary BOD members are not that much capable of planning for the LSOs together with the management team.
Dearth of strong Local Level Organizational Coordination and Linkages/Partnerships of LSOs
The LSOs, the Shia Ismaili Councils and the Tehsil (magistracy) are permanent organizations at local level in the area. Many objectives of them overlap regarding developmental and legal tasks. There are however strong gaps among these local level organizations. Reasons seem individualistic approaches and getting credits rather than concerted efforts of easing community. When there will be triangular or quadrangular approaches by realizing that all these organizational efforts are for the same community, there may effectively come a sense of shared problems, shred responsibility, shared strategies and shared resources to positively get a desired and shared results.

Effective Strategies to Strengthen the LSOs
After an attempt of having a thorough discussion and a holistic analysis around the identified issues lying within the LSOs and their pillar organizations (VWOs and its affiliated LDOs), some effective strategies need to be taken.
Social Mobilization Campains and Capacity Building
All LSOs in upper Hunza, illustrated above, have problems of social/community mobilization, more particularly mobilization pertaining to the VWOs. A question arises that why community could be mobilized or why the VWOs or other LDOs that are registered or affiliated with the LSO hesitate or are reluctant in getting together or taking ownership of the LSOs decision or work? Very short answer we can get for it: “individuals can strive and earn money for himself or herself; but in community organizations, people honestly and sincerely devote their time, knowledge, expeence and even money to earn the community’s trust.” In this regard, robustly extensive and intensive mobilization campaign is therefore a must if the LSOs have to sustain for the long run.
What the LSOs could or should do?
Role of an LSO office bearers, directors and general body members
A VWO’s representatives in the LSO (on positions of director and member general body) should hold at least monthly meetings/seatings with his/her VWOs and LDOs in order to keep in touch and know their issues and formulate strategies through their members in the VWOs and afterwards in the LSOs. In this way, it will be easy for an LSO to know the issues of its member organizations and mobilize them around their own issues. It will then also positively contribute towards taking ownership of their LSO; and transparency and accountability elements would also be ensured.
LSO BOD’s time to visit out its foundational/pillar organizations
The chairman along with his directors (representing all VWOs/LDOs) should pay quarterly visit all VWOs and LDOs; and know their issues, record them and design frameworks for action.
In addition, the LSO BOD should also update their VWOs, LDOs regarding efforts, progress and challenges, even share their views for further improvement (apart from the Annual General Body Meetings).
LSO’s AGM and circulation of the progress cum audit reports
LSO BOD, after holding its AGM, could and should also circulate key features of its progress reports to all its member organizations, if couldn’t get publish it by any reason. Otherwise, it’d be advisable to publish its annual progress report (even GOLSOn could take this task and facilitate for all the four LSOs). This will bring a confidence for the LSos and trust of the member organizations and community could be earned. Consequently, the community the related organizations would directly and indirectly get mobilized.
Receptive attitude of LSO BOD towards critiques
The LSO BOD needs to encourage its members and member organizations to criticize them positively, as per bylaws, the LSOs in order to bring positive improvements.
Furthermore, the chairman and BOD need to provide the LSO’s bylaws to all its members in the BOD and general body. Copies of bylaws should be available to all VWOs, LDOs and other affiliated/registered organizations. This should be ensured that all members in the BOD plus general body clearly understand the LSO’s bylaws. Same should be with the office bearers of VWOs/LDOs/other registered forums.
When all these members are clear in understanding the vision, mission, goals, objectives, governance structures and so on, they will be able to positively work with and critique the LSO for its positive improvement. The office bearers should have a clear picture then that these are for the purpose of bringing improvement in the LSO.
Shia Ismaili councils’ role in community mobilization
As part of their social governance manadate, the Shia Ismai’li councils have their great contributions in mobilizing the community around development projects. These councils along with other jamati setups have been paving the way for the imamat AKDN) institutions and agencies. In AKRSP’s success stories in the traditional areas, the jamati institutions, especially the councils, have contributed remarkably in social mobilization. The LSOs in the traditional areas, specifically in the upper Hunza, can build strong ties and linkages with these Ismaili councils and a big chunk of mobilization in the initial phases, the Councils could take and play.
What can AKRSP do?
Strengthening VWOs for strengthening LSOs
It is very critical to understand that until and unless the VWOs are not adequately sensitized and strengthened (especially in good governance), an LSO cannot be strengthened and its sustainability cannot be ensured because the VWOs are the foundation and pillars of the LSOs. Afterwards, other registered organizations (LDOs and youth forums) have to be sensitized , too.
What practical or concrete steps AKRSP could take in this connection are as under.
Capacity building on social mobilization
AKRSP may help facilitate LSOs in social mobilization trainings on the one hand; and even arrange a quarterly or biannual visit of VWOs through AKRSP’s social mobilizers in the valley.
Provide time to time capacity building training on priority basis around various emerging or need base themes identified by the VWOs/LDOs/LSOs/GOLSON.
External resources mobilization
Help in mobilizing external resources (as well as facilitate in internal resources mobilization) of LSOs.
International resources mobilization
Instead of becoming long term parasite of LSO for the management support fund from AKRSP or any other related organizations, AKRSP should seek indigenous/internal arrangement of resources’ mobilization in each valley such as the traditional/local philanthropy known by various names as nang-u-nāmus, kār-e khair, chanda, hadiya, a’tiya and so on. During the period of Hunza’s principality and even today, we could witness that local philanthropists have contributed enormously in the tangible project sides of their villages and areas by developing infrastructures such as bridges, pony-treks, irrigation channels, rooms of schools and the like. Initiation of such projects are still valid but needs to be channelized with LSOs, VWOs or other organizations of the civil society. Last year (October 2012), the idea was diffused in a festival at Reshit when CLSO hosted the program. It was appreciated and little steps the community members took and moved ahead when they announced such philanthropy for the LSO in the name of their late or alive family members.
Developing tangible projects
Devise tangible projects on priority basis, especially in the MASO area, which is the physically disaster area (and more complaints are received from this area about indifference of AKDN, especially AKRSP).
Management support fund
Provide management support to those LSOs, as are wating for it, for a limited period with conditions of bringing the desired changes and improvements within the LSOs governance, social mobilizations and so on.
Organizing valley conference of VWOs and other LDOs for LSOs sustainability
Facilitate organizing a valley level conference of the VWOs, LDOs and other community organizations whether through the forum of AKRSP itself, or GOLSOn or joint so that to fully sensitize the community towards their grassroots organizations like VWOs and the youth forurms. AKRSP needs to take a lead role because among other AKDN agencies/institutions, the community regards AKRSP enormously.
Exposure trips to VWOs/LDOs
Help facilitate the latent, less disciplined VWOs and LDOs in their governance improvement, exposure trips within and out of the upper valley . Reputed VWOs could be used as a tool for bringing changes in other VWOs.
Capacity building of the LSO Managers
Provide time to time trainings to the LSO managers and other staff in order to efficiently plan and effectively operate the affairs of the LSOs. Likewise, the LSO office bearers, especially the chairmen/chairpersons need time to time training on leadership and good governance.
Leadership and governance workshops for the LSOs
Four workshops in each of the four LSOs for one day or two days on the governance and bylaws can be conducted by involving all general body members and office bearers of the VWOs/LDOs/youth forums so that to sensitize them about the role, function and duty of the respective LSOs.
Eligibiligy Criteria Guideline for the Governance of LSOs and VWOs
After arrival in the disaster Emergency Field Office (EFO) Gulmit (Hunza) in May 2012, one of the important focus areas (of the author of this study/report while heading the EFO) was to strive hard (1) to bridge the seriously widened gaps and reduce/remove the organizational misperceptions that prevailed among the LSOs and VWOs or vice versa; LSOs and AKRSP; VWOs and AKRSP; LSOs and the Shia Ismaili Councils. Taking the Presidents of regional and local Shia Ismai’li councils and even the religious scholars to various social (communal, ceremonial and congregational) gatherings in addition with series of meetings with the respective organization of the civil society, the community mobilization for strengthening the VWOs and LSOs were made through the community leaders and activists. The LSOs’ concept, roles and responsibilities were explained to the community. This move though had a positive impact on the community, more needs to be done as it takes time for human behavior to adept to the new models in bringing change, especially regarding institutional development . Besides, close relationship was maintained (opposed ot the previous period) with the LSOs and Gojal LSO Network (GOLSON). The chairman of GOLSON (who is also chairman of MASO) was taking to the fields in CLSO, GRSO and SNT areas and joint meetings of Ismaili councils, LSOs and VWOs were organized. This sent a clear message that LSOs are not any alien organizations rather the community’s own develpmen forums.
As mentioned earlier that LSOs cannot be strengthened unless the VWOs are not positively and effectively strengthened with special focus on the good governance (as it gravely lacks). The VWOs cannot adequately grow up until inclusive approaches in many ways are not ensured such as including new members, especially educated youths, are not motivated and fair/honest democratization process, based on a set elibility criteria/guidelines, in selecting/electing meritocratic organizational heads and office bearers and LSO representatives are not ensured (same holds true for the LSOs as well).
In addition, a general eligibility criteria guidelines (both in English and Urdu) I developed with the group discussions and in meetings in and out of the EFO for choosing office bearers of LSOs, directors/geral body members and the VWOs office bearers so that competent and merticratic people should be brought at leadership level and on other positions of the office (cf. annex.). although, many copies of the guidelines were disseminate to the stakeholders but that could not effectively reach to the people concerned at the grassroots levels (VWOs’ members).
AKRSP Gilgit Region could therefore take up good governance agenda in the grassroots organizations (VWOs) and the LSOs on top priority. LSOs should be influenced and facilitated to prioritize this component of institutional development (ID). Upper Hunza in this connection could be taken as a pilot project for one LSO tenure (3 years) to closely watch/monitor the effectiveness for the sustainability of the social organizations.
Effective Models of Development Collaboration
In result of the above excercises, an interestingly effective model of devellpment partnership (collaborative development approaches) emerges. If the model is followed provided the respective chains are positively strong enough for community development, very productive results could be achieved. This interesting model shapes a triangular or trilateral approach;
Triangular or trilateral model of development collaboration refers to a chain that has mainly three beads (dimensions) within it; and each bead’s significance cannot be denied. The model follows as under.
Grassroots community organizations (e.g., VWOs/LDOs/youth forums)  Intermediary community organizations (e.g., LSOs/Shia Ismai’li Councils/ GOLSON  external organizations (e.g., AKDN/donor agencies/public sector organization)
This model clearly shows us that how close/intimate relations the community organizations or socially internal organizations (at grassroots and intermediate levels) have with each other; and strive to bring positive change in collaboration with external organizations (not organizations of the local community). Both the local community organizations and external organizations are interdependent on each other for the development collaboration. It is therefore imperative that the model should be well conceptualized in order to better plan for community development emanating from the grassroots organization and patronized by the intermediate level community organizations but in many ways with the help and facilitation of the internal organizations.
The model clearly shows us the interwoven objectives of the community organizations in the civil society. At intermediary level, in many ways, the LSOs and the Ismaili councils have overlapping madagtes. They can therefore supplement each other’s tasks. Both have their plus and minus marks as per their mandates. The Ismaili councils, functioning in the ara since 1969 have a long track record but is limited with social governance mandate. Here lies people’s belief and whatsoever, the community honor the decisions and activities of the councils, especially paveing the way like dozers or excavators (i.e., community mobilization) at the front for development projects. The LSOs are novice as started working since 2007-8; but the mandates of LSOs are broader and goes beyond social governance. LSOs can even opt for right based advocacies. Therefore, more capable and competent people are required for the LSOs who should have clear understanding of the civil society and organizations working for the community with psotive moves by keeping clear working relations with the external organizations aimed for community development.
Grassroots organizations in a civil society are effective forums to raise the communities’ s issues robustly and address them either on the spot (if they can do as we learn it from valley’s history, too) or with the help or facilitation of the relatedly external organizations. LSOs are, of course, community forums with legal and social umbrealla for the grassroots organizations of the civil society on the one hand; and on other, they are the intermediary organizational entities between their foundational bases and the external (non-local) organizations.
For the sake of strengthening the LSOs (or even the LSOs Network), it’d be highly pivotal to strengthen the foundational forums of the LSOs (i.e., VWOs, youth forums and others registered with the LSOs) as they rest like a building on the ground floor; while LSOs on the first floor; as the LSO network on the second floor.
A common issue found in result of this study was NOT prevailing culture of good governance in the grassroots organizations and the LSOs (the BOD members of the latter unware of their bylaws). Consequently, the community members have their reservations and mistrust or distrust in taking real ownership of their respective organizations (like LSOs) and become latent in getting mobilized for the communal/collective causes, despite the fact that availability of human resources may not be a major issue in the context of upper Hunza to effectively run the organizations of the civil society.
The management fund issue, for which the LSO ‘s executive bodyof the LSOs cry and complain, time and again, can be addressed locally by initiating for their traditional/native philanthropy (nang wa nomũs). But this reuires again, let’s reitera, prmoting culure good governance is introeuded; management are recruited on merit basis; and timely plus positively effective delivery against the needs/issues. This will ultimately bear productive fruits and people/community will begin trusting the LSOs and the VWOs and/or any related organizations. In more simple way, trust longes for good faith, honesty, sincerity, devotion, generosity and requires the respective office bearers the required capacity for the eligibility.
Once, the community’s trust is thus earned, financial resources (from internal sources or external) will start flowing and pouring in the trustable organizations, by look at their track records, to be spent on genuine issues.

I’m particulary grateful to all colleagues and friends within and out of LSOs for sharing their expertise and views during meetings, genral and focus group discussions that enabled me to come to this stage to write this study report. Without them, it won’t have become possible.

AGM Annual General Body Meeting
AKDN Aga Khan Development Network
AKRSP Aga Khan Rural Support Program
ARSO Altit Rurul Support Orgaanization
BOD Board of Directors
BRSO Baltit Rural Support Organization
BRSP Burshal Rural Support Program
CLSO Chipursan Local Support Organization
EFO Emergency Field Office
GB Gilgit-Baltistan
GBC Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral
GDO Ganish Development Organization
GESWANCA Ghulkin Educational, Social Welfare and Nature Conservation Association
GOLD Gulmit Organization for Local Development
GOLSON Gojal Local Support Organization (LSO) Network
GRSO Gojal Rural Support Organization
HOLD Hussaini Organization for Local Development
HRSO Hyderabad Rural Support Program
KADO Karakoram Area Development Organization
KKH Karakoram Highway
LDOs Local Development Organizations (umbrella organizations of the villages)
LSO Local Support Organizations
MASO Mountain Area Support Organization
PDO Passu Development Organization
RDO Rakaposhi Development Organization
RLSO Rakaposhi Local Support Organization
RSPs Rural Support Programs
SRSO S̃henbar Rural Support Organization
SADO Shinak Area Development Organization
SNT Shimshal Nature Trust
SSWO Shishkat Social Welfare Organization
VO Village Organization
VWOs Village and Women Organizations
WO Women Organization

Annex II: Guidelines/tips and practical steps for MASO
What is desirable step by step?
1. The top and foremost condition: devotion and determination in voluntarism for community development in civil society organizations like the LSO (MASO)
a. devote your honesty, devote your time, devote your energy, devote your knowledge and skill; and
b. be determined with a deep and broad vision, have an unbiased approach getting aside from the undesirable biases, and uphold merti and meritocracy, democratization and pluralism in the LSO.
2. Properly and effectively study the LSO bylaws through mutual sharing and discuss.
a. Try to fully understand the governance and organization structures, rules, regulations, procedures, disciplines against the LSO’s overall mandates (vision, mission, goals, objectives, etc).
b. Each members of the LSO board and general body members should have a hard copy of the bylaws.
c. Even provide copies of bylaws to each Village and Women Organization (VWOs), local development organizations (LDOs) like GOLD, HOLD, GESWANCA, PDO and Social Welfare Organizations of Shishkat as well as other organizations registered with MASO such as Shohi Chirogh Youth and Students Association etc.
3. Hold time to time meetings of the LSO cabinet and board members; and even quarterly meetings with the LSO general body.
a. Identify key issues through mutual sharing of innovative ideas, experiences and look for their causes and solution in practical term.
b. Always uphold the procedures and bylaws of the LSO.
4. Coordination and information: always keep the VWOs and LDOs informed and keep them on top as they are the foundations and pillers of the LSO. Without the VWOs and LDOs, the LSO is nothing just a structure/body.
a. LSO boards should visit the VWOs on at aleast for quarterly basis in order to earn the trust of the VWOs on the LSOs; and
b. try to identify genuine issues, their causes and get suggestions for their solutions and improvement through the VWO members themselves and in the LSO board.
5. Hold a quarterly meeting with the LSO general body (including over 40 members in MASO) and discuss various issues and look for their solutions from them.
6. Create linkages and partnerships with other related organizations on common needs and mandates.
a. Keep close collaboration and working ties with the Shia Ismaili Councils would be very important as the Councils have their intimate relations in mobilizing the community for any positive development initiatives.
b. Build linkages and partnerships with different organizations at regional, national and international levels.
c. Once the LSO earns trust of the VWOs, LDOs and other community members, resources mobilization would be very easy.
d. Internal resources such as getting Rs. 50/- or 100/- from each members of the VWOs and LDOs per annum (annually) will not be a big task to sustain the management support of the LSO.
e. The traditional mode of getting donations (nang et nomũs) in terms of cash and kinds will be easy to mobilize.
7. External resources such as pooling financial resources out of the LSO jurisdiction would be very important again. But for this purpose, internal sources mobilization will be the prerequisite.
8. Management Team of the LSO: Manager for the LSO is a must. In addition, an accountant and especially a social mobilizer have to be hired again. All these three management team needs to be hired purely on meritocracy and NOT based on any kind of affiliations. LSO may need its own office in the near future.
9. Based on the identified and participative issues/problems, development plans, proposals and projects need to be designed and implemented positively.
10. If this much points are taken into considerations are sufficient currently.

Annex III: How could good governance of civil society organizations be ensured and materialized (e.g., VWOs)?

In order to ensure and materialize good governance in a civil society organization like village organization and women organization (VWOs), the team of governing body (including President, Vice President, Secretary, Finance Secretary/Manager) needs to meet the following eligibility criteria or set merits. He or she or they:
 Should have a broad vision of bringing positive change and development at least at their village and cluster levels by keeping a balance between men and women; and
× must NOT be ever pessimistic of community development and change in their society.
 Should be honest with and positively dedicated or devoted to the VWOs and the community causes; and
× must NOT be dishonest and careless of the VWOs and community interests.
 Should be well educated (at least graduate, if possible), knowledgeable of and wise about the community organization and mobilization for their development; and
× must NOT be arrogant, insensitive, unaware of and ignorant about the VWOs’ and community’s interests.
 Should have characteristics of positively and actively consulting with, organizing and mobilizing the VWO members and the community around their collective interests (projects, programs etc), and proactively earn their trust; and
× must NOT be negatively active or proactive in dealing with the affairs of VWOs and its members and the community;
× must NOT be proactive in negatively organizing or mobilizing the VWOs and the community.
 Should have positive aptitude of gathering the annual general body meeting (AGM) of VWOs and fairly/transparently present the progress and financial reports to the VWO members and the community; and
× must NOT be selfish or must NOT have vested interest who hijack the VWOs or other community organizations at individual level or at a group of few people.
 Should have a democratic attitude and teamwork spirit who promote(s) such values in the VWOs and other community organization(s); and
× must NOT have the attitude and behavior of dictatorship in dealing with the VWO members or other community organizations.
 Should have tolerant and mild behavior (i.e., must develop great patience in him or her) in dealing with the VWO and community members.
× must think that s/he has been chosen as a volunteer-servant on the basis of communal trust, high expectations to do something for them ( for a short period of time may be one or two years);
× must NOT think s/he has been taken as their lord or autocratic ruler to govern them in whatever way they like.
 Should have the quality of taking bold decision positively and well in time for the communal interests, sometimes in periods of crises and challenges; and
× must NOT be afraid of the tides of the time when interests of community or civil society are at stake.
 Above all (in conclusion), a prospective candidate, especially for the leading position, must be unbiased to a greater extent, and should be away from any kind of nepotism and favoritism.
× S/he must NOT be biased who intentionally considers in professional or voluntary community organizations any kinship relations (such as referring to father, mother, sister, brother, son, daughter, nephew, niece cousins or their relatives, clans, or otherwise);
× S/he must NOT be biased in personal likeness or dislikeness ;
× must NOT be biased on the basis of lingual or creed basis;
× S/he must NOT be biased on the basis of so-called externally imposed political ideologies (such as PPP, PML(N/Q), MQM and others.
 Instead a candidate for a civil society organization like VWOs, LDOs, LSOs, LSOs Network or others must be considered for a leading position on the basis of meritocracy (set criteria on professional line).

Annex IV: How could good governance of civil society organizations be ensured and materialized (e.g., LSOs/LSOs Network or others)?

For the purpose of ensuring and materializing good governance in a civil society organization like Local Support organization (LSOs) as legal umbrella for the village and Women Organizations (VWOs) and Local Development Organizations (LDOs), the team of governing body of LSOs (including Chairman/Chairperson, Vice Chairman or Vice Chairperson, General Secretary, Finance Secretary and Press Secretary or others) needs to meet the following guidelines, eligibility criteria or set merits.
 Should have a broad vision of bringing positive change and development at least at their Union Council, magistracy and sub-division levels by keeping a gender balance between men and women; and
× must NOT be ever pessimistic of community development and change in their society.
 Should practically be honest with and positively dedicated or devoted to the LSO, VWOs and the community causes; and
× Must NOT be dishonest and careless of the LSO, VWOs and community interests.
 Should be well educated (at least Masters degree holder, if possible), knowledgeable of and wise about the community organization and mobilization for their development; and
× must NOT be arrogant, insensitive, unaware of and ignorant about the VWOs’ and community’s interests.
 Should have at least three years of professional work experience in Development Organization(s) and three years voluntary work experience in a community organizations (e.g., VWOs or LDOs, Shia Ismaili Councils or others).
 Should have characteristics of positively and actively consulting with, organizing and mobilizing the LSO and its grassroots organizations such as VWO members and the community around their collective interests (projects, programs etc), and proactively earn their trust; and
× must NOT be negatively active or proactive in dealing with the affairs of LSO’s or VWOs’ projects, programs; OR with its members and the community;
× must NOT be proactive in negatively organizing or mobilizing the LSO members or VWOs and the community.
 Should have positive aptitude of regularly calling the annual general body meeting (AGM) of the LSO and fairly/transparently present the progress and financial reports to its general body and even should make the progresses or regresses to VWO members and the community; and
× must NOT be selfish or must NOT have vested interest who hijack(s) the LSO mandates and VWOs or other community organizations at expense of individual or group level interests.
 Should have a democratic attitude and teamwork spirit who promote(s) such values not only within the LSO or VWOs, but also facilitates promotion of such norms and values in other community organization(s); and
× must NOT have the attitude and behavior of dictatorship in dealing with the states of affairs within LSO and VWO members or other community organizations.
 Should have tolerant and mild behavior (i.e., must develop great patience in him or her) in dealing with the affairs of LSO, VWO and community members.
× must be positive in thought and concept that s/he has been chosen as (and s/he has accepted it voluntarily) as a community servant on the basis of communal trust and high expectations to deliver something for them ( for a short period of time may be one or two years);
× must NOT think that s/he has been taken as their lord or autocratic ruler to govern them in whatever way the governing body like; but in contrast, they must highly regard the community’s interest and mandates.
 Should have the quality of taking bold decision positively and well in time for safeguarding the communal interests, sometimes in periods of crises and challenges; and
× must NOT be afraid of the tides of the time when interests of community or (broader) civil society are at stake.
 Should highly be capable of enhancing conducive and productive organizational behavior and developing positive relations and partnerships within LSO’s pillars (VWOs), among LSOs and other community plus public sector organizations, non-governmental organizations and international non-governmental organizations.
× must NOT be champion of creating or developing organizational confrontations, conflicts and mistrust within LSO and its pillars, among LSOs or the LSO, and the LSO and other stakeholders.
 Above all (in conclusion), a candidate, especially for the leading position, must be unbiased to a greater extent, and should be away from any kind of nepotism and favoritism.
× S/he must NOT be biased who intentionally considers in professional or voluntary community organizations any kinship relations (such as referring to father, mother, sister, brother, son, daughter, nephew, niece cousins or their relatives, clans, or otherwise);
× S/he must NOT be biased in personal likeness or dislikeness;
× must NOT be biased on the basis of lingual or creed basis;
× S/he must NOT be biased on the basis of so-called externally imposed political ideologies (such as PPP, PML(N/Q), MQM and others.
 Instead, a prospective candidate for a civil society organization like VWOs, LDOs, CBOs, LSOs, LSOs Network or others must be considered for a leading position on the basis of meritocracy (set criteria on professional line).

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