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Daily Times

Published Date: Aug 7, 2012

CORPORATE SECTOR ASKED TO PLAY ITS ROLE IN SOCIETY

Corporate sector to play its societal role and address some of the main socio-economic issues contributing to conflicts such as poverty and unemployment.

Speakers at a seminar ‘Peace through Profit: Peace-building through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in Pakistan’ jointly organised by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), Responsible Businesses Initiative (RBI) and International Alert, London on Monday were of the opinion weak and non-existent government institutions were unable to effectively address the multifaceted conflicts in Pakistan.

Asad Umar, former CEO Engro Corporation said economic policy should put greater emphasise on socio-economic welfare of people of Pakistan. Private sector should vigorously be engaged in public policy issues particularly conflict prevention and resolution as businesses are the foremost victim of conflicts.

He lamented the corporate sector for limited community services and urged the businesses to fulfill their societal responsibilities.

Ghotki in Sindh is one of the biggest industrial hubs with largest reservoirs of natural gas but there is not a single technical training institute in the area. He apprised participants Engro has established a technical institute for the local community. He said it was directly in the interests of corporate sector to have congenial relations with the community.

Chaudhry Manzoor Ahmad, Chairman, Peoples Labour Bureau said corporations were exploiting the workers and local community by avoiding their civic responsibilities and practicing unethical business practices which ultimately lead to conflicts.

Calling for regional integration in South Asia, he said, South Asia could only lead to prosperity if there was peace and open interaction of people particularly in area of business and trade.

Shafqat Munir, Coordinator Asia Rights in Crisis, Oxfam called upon government, corporate sector and civil society to work together for an effective implementation of corporate social responsibility concept.

He said corporate sector could play its role in conflict resolution in the society through leveraging its position, skills, resources and wider support network. He said humanitarian access and protection of rights should be given prime emphasising while working in conflict situation.

Rabia Nusrat, senior programme officer, International Alert, London informed participants of various interventions of International Alert for conflict resolution in Pakistan and across South Asia.

‘We have joined hands with SDPI to conduct a research study to analysis economic drivers of conflict. This will include as assessment of the obstacles or opportunities for business to act as agents of peace, and in particular assessing the peace supportive economic factors, such as youth unemployment issues,” she added.