Pakistani authorities are announcing a new program aimed at preventing billions of dollars in public donations to charities from ending up with banned militant groups.
The "Safer Charity" initiative announced Tuesday urges people to use caution and donate to responsible humanitarian organizations. The move comes amid concerns that some militant organizations are using front organizations to collect money for allegedly humanitarian work.
According to government officials, people in Pakistan donate up to $4.5 billion annually to help the poor and needy, as part of fulfilling the religious obligation of almsgiving, or zakat.
"Pakistani citizens pay annually an estimated amount of 500 billion rupees [$4.5 billion] in charity and only a portion of that amount is being audited," Ibn Hayyan, a federal official in charge of Safer Charity in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, told VOA.
The new program urges citizens to ensure the groups they are donating to have not been banned by the government.