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Shocking Hidden Truth of Pakistan’s Leading Anti Tobacco NGO, HDF

Shocking Hidden Truth of Pakistan's Leading Anti Tobacco NGO, HDF

ISLAMABAD (.  ):  The hidden links of a leading anti-tobacco NGO with cigarette companies shook the development sector and government policymakers. These links also exposed the shady nexus between the leading tobacco trading business families and local and international non-government organizations.

According to details, in 2021, Islamabad based leading anti-tobacco NGO Human Development Foundation (HDF) invited Mr. Saad Masood-ur-Rehman, President of the Mardan Chamber of Commerce and Industries, as chief guest in its event regarding the Human Development Institute of Future Skills in Mardan. During his visit to  HDF’s Mardan office, he appreciated NGO’s working and showed full commitment to support and financial sponsorship of programs run by HDF.

Interestingly, Saad Masood-ur-Rehman belongs to a leading political and businessman family of Mardan, KPK. His family is very much active in local and national politics. Saad Rehman is the first cousin of Senator Faisal Saleem Rehman and close relative of Haji Naseem Ur Rehman, ex Member National Assembly of Pakistan.

The family business, named as Masood Sons Group of Industries, was incorporated in 2000 by its Chairman Haji Masood Rehman, elder brother of Haji Naseem ur Rehman.

Earlier in1965, Haji Masood Rehman also established the Saleem Group of Industries (SGI), mainly dealing in tobacco and cigarette manufacturing.

After Saleem Group of Industries and Masood Sons Group, this leading business family also established  Universal Group of Industries.

According to available data, Masood Sons Group of Industries, Universal Group of Industries, and other businesses also own three cigarette manufacturing companies i.e.; Universal Tobacco Company, Millat Tobacco Company and Markhor Tobacco Company.

For social development of Mardan, this family also runs a family trust named Masood Welfare Trust.

Saad Masood-ur-Rehman is mentioned as Managing Director of Millat Tobacco Company and Markhor Tobacco Company on his personal social media platforms

Various pictures and details available with NewsGuru, Masood Welfare Trust has sponsored education under  HDF programs in Mardan.

A picture dated 7 October 2022 shows that member executive body of Mardan Chamber of Commerce, Qismat Khan and Waqas Nawab Zada, representative of Masood Welfare Trust, presented a cheque to Mr. Muhammad Ishaque, Regional Program Manager, HDF Mardan. Shockingly, according to website of the Mardan Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Qismat Khan, member executive body runs a tobacco-related business named as  FBU Tobacco Company (Pvt) Limited, Zamindara Chamber, PatHoti, Mardan.

According to articles and guidelines of WHO’s Frame Work Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), anti-tobacco advocates, organizations, INGOs and NGOs are strictly stopped from coordinating with the tobacco industry and they cannot receive any sort of  sponsorship, funding, support, assistance directly or indirectly from the  tobacco industry in any form .

The current revelations about HDF’s hidden good relations with Mardan’s tobacco industry have shaken the whole development sector and especially the  government stakeholders.

From the last few years, INGOs, NGOs and thinktanks working in the anti tobacco field were criticised for their funding mechanisms. In the past, various anti tobacco advocates were criticized by media due to their deep silence on continuous marketing and fiscal violations of local tobacco industry of Pakistan.

Financial experts have a point of view that many of these anti tobacco NGOs allegedly technically support the tax evading segment of the local cigarette industry, based in KPK and AJK.

Financial experts also  believe that HDF’s research and point of view on fiscal and taxation policies on the tobacco industry are one-sided and only favor the local tax-evaded cigarette industry.

Every year before announcement of annual national budget, anti tobacco  NGOs execute heavily financed media campaigns and arrange stakeholder’s tours to different hilly vacation destinations.

Now the current revelations have raised serious questions on the credibility of these anti tobacco NGOs as their illegal network with the  tobacco industry has been openly proved.