Dr. Akhter Hameed Khan, arguably the most highly respected development practitioner that Pakistan has ever produced, was inducted as an officer of the elite Indian civil Service in 1936, trained at Cambridge and posted to Bengal in 1938. He resigned from this service in 1945 because he did not wish to belong to a dying system that had lost its vitality and viability? and because ?it gave me no joy when poor people groveled before me. Or when I saw their misery as in times of famine, I could not maintain a lordly indifference? (quoted by Arif Hasan in his Introduction to Khan 1996, pp. xv– xvi). After leaving the civil service, Akhtar Hameed Khan worked as a laborer and a locksmith. Later he taught in colleges and in 1958 became Director of the Rural Development Academy in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), where he initiated the internationally acclaimed Comilla Pilot Project for rural development, for which he received a Magsaysay Award, the first for a Pakistani. He subsequently taught development administration at American universities, including the Michigan State University, and initiated the OPP in 1980. Khan Sahib visited Lodhran in March 1999 due to the persistent efforts of Jahangir Tareen, a local landowner, industrialist and philanthropist, who understood and supported the OPP concept. He recommended that relevant people from the Municipal Committee, Lodhran (MCL) should visit and study the OPP, and asked Hafeez Arain, one of his two senior-most social organizers, to leave OPP and help start the sanitation program in Lodhran. As work started in Lodhran, meanwhile, Khan Sahib passed away in October 1999. For more information about Dr. Akhtar Hameed Khan please visit www.akhtar-hameed-khan.8m.com.
Mr. Hafeez Arain was the Senior Social Organizer of OPP, a position he took up because Khan Sahib asked him to. In reality he was the man who made things happen in the streets and corner meetings of Lodhran, working with people and their representatives as if that was his only business. Hafeez Arain was once a political activist, one of several from the 1960s and 1970s who fought and suffered for popular and progressive causes, tried out one political party after another until disillusionment set in and they made their way into development or something else. According to Mr. Arif Hasan (Social Researcher/Activist,Writer), all the social organizers of the OPP, including Hafeez Arain, the most experienced one, are political persons in one way or another. They all have an element of radicalism and understood much faster than their neighbors what Akhtar Hameed Khan was trying to say. Hafeez Arain had worked, among other things, as an assistant to an informal developer in Orangi and a rickshaw driver. In Lodhran, and in the extension of Grassroots Pakistan’s work to Khanpur (Rahimyar Khan District), Dunyapur and Kehror Pacca, Hafeez Arain was at work all the time and he just kept working with the people.