CWS was invited to work in Pakistan by a high-level delegation from the Government of Pakistan that was visiting Washington, D.C during the 1950s.
The delegation wanted American NGOs to start operations in Pakistan particularly to work with the refugees coming from India after the partition. The delegation was referred to CWS in New York, and subsequently, CWS-P/A started its food aid and health programs in Lahore with the refugees in the early 1950s and became officially registered in Pakistan in 1954.
In the initial years, program elements were limited to PL480 and other material resource programs; it was in the early 1970s that CWS-P/A started to move into sustainable development programming.
However, at the invitation of Government of Pakistan, CWS-P/A responded to the needs of Afghan refugees, who had started to cross the border after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. CWS-P/A was one of the first agencies to establish camps in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, previously known as the North-West Frontier Province, and Balochistan, providing urgently needed relief items.
In the mid 1990s, the program in Pakistan had shrunk and, along with the CWS Indonesia and Vietnam programs, was on the list to be closed down by CWS. However, the CWS-P/A team, civil society leaders, and church leaders requested Rev. Lonnie Turnipseed (former executive director of CWS, Inc.) to nationalize the program and appoint the first Pakistani Director. As a result, Marvin Parvez was appointed and a local advisory board was also constituted by Rev. Larry Tankersley (former Southern Asia Director).
Marvin Parvez, in partnership with partners and staff, restructured the program and established one of largest CWS programs around the globe. Today, it implements many projects falling under the three main programs and not only covers the sub-region but assists other Asian nations during emergencies.
Fifty Years of Partnership and Practice
In 2004, CWS-P/A completed 50 years of service in this region. Established as an organization committed toward the uplift of oppressed communities, CWS-P/A engages in development and relief initiatives, capacity building, social development, advocacy on socio-political issues, poverty reduction, strengthening of civil society organizations, women’s empowerment, communal harmony, and peace.