Zakat-based welfare economy: Experts stress on overcoming lack of trust in govt through public-private partnership

ISLAMABAD: The Islamic Social Security System fulfills several sustainable development goals and serves as an excellent tool for building resilience and balance in social and economic lives.

Effective reforms at the legislative, constitutional and operational levels are needed to tap the full potential and possibilities of the Islamic financial system.

It was said in a ceremony held on Friday for the release of a landmark report ‘Islamic Social Finance for Social Protection in Pakistan’, a research-based report prepared by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), Islamabad in collaboration with the Council of Islamic Ideology and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale (GIZ).

Muhammad Arshad, CEO, Prime Minister Health Programme, Khalid Rehman, Chairman, IPS, Dr. Atiq Zafar Khan, Dean of Social Sciences, Rafah International University, Dr. Salman Ahmed Shaikh, Director, Islamic Economics Project and Principal Investigator of Research, and Muhammad Mustafa Khan, Technical Advisor, GIZ, spoke as the chief guest.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Qibla Ayaz described the public’s lack of trust in government institutions and competence as a major obstacle in the way of establishing a Zakat-based welfare system in the country. Trust-based foundations were the hope of future for social security in Pakistan, he emphasized.

He further said there was a need to promote and strengthen trust-based social welfare organizations, which were also given opportunities to flourish. The government should initiate partnerships with such private sector organizations and as a result, the social security system would be more effective and public confidence in the government would be built.

Muhammad Arshad said ownership, collective effort and willingness to take actions based on institutions were the basis of success of nations. The work of institutions like Akhuwat, Al-Khidmat Foundation, and Edhi Foundation showed a bright side of this potential which needed to be taken to a higher level with the prominent role of the new generation, he added.

He said as part of the action-oriented initiatives in this context, health insurance under the Sahat Sahulat Programme would be converted into takaful mode to align it with the Islamic social finance model next year.

Khalid Rehman stressed that issues affecting the overall pattern of life should not be discussed in isolation, but rather to create a holistic enabling environment to focus on the multiple factors and issues affecting the country.

He further emphasized on integration of related institutions, cooperative rather than competitive working model, public-private partnership, and consensus to tap the untapped potential in the country.

Dr. Salman Sheikh outlined the establishment of a comprehensive Islamic social finance ecosystem with a proper governance framework and administration.

He further elaborated on the mechanism of social security in Islam, analyzed the various challenges and obstacles faced in institutionalizing Zakat, Ushr and Waqf, found ways to overcome these problems, and the management of Islamic social financial institutions.

Commenting on the report, Dr. Atiq Zafar highlighted that a welfare economy based on Islamic economic principles provided a possible alternative to the Riba-based economic system.

Countries like Malaysia had set a good example in adopting Islamic social finance instruments for social security of people, he said adding since collection and distribution of Zakat was the responsibility of the state, therefore, the government should take into account the models of these countries to design an economic and financial system based on social welfare.

Adding to the conversation, Mustafa Khan said diverting the flow of money to the lower strata of the society and preventing the rich from getting richer and the poor from getting poorer was the most important policy for any government to adopt.