The Thar is a region of rolling sand dunes, plains and hills, lying across two countries and four states of the South Asian subcontinent. This vast arid land, now considered one of the harshest climates in the world, was once home to the great civilizations of Mohen jo Daro and Harappa.
rank out of 114 districts in Pakistan
population suffering from multi-dimensional poverty
mean years of schooling, for males
mean years of schooling, for females
Thar (short for Tharparkar), also known as the Great Indian Desert, covers over two hundred thousand square kilometers of land and derives its name from its very own sand ridges, or thul in the local vernacular. Its expansive surface area extends from southeastern Sindh and southern Punjab in Pakistan over the Indian states of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Haryana and Punjab. The Thar is bordered on the east by the Aravalli Mountain Range, on the west by the River Indus plain and the great salt marsh, the Rann of Kutch, on the south. The northern border is less defined, with some scholars naming the Punjab plain as its fourth wall.
The desert boasts some of the largest sand dunes in the world. And, these too, are not static. The unique characteristic of Thari sand dunes is their constant rolling motion. While rolling sand dunes occur in many parts of the world, these are always active. The Thar’s extreme winds are a major reason causing this perpetual motion. Against the backdrop of the stationary Aravalli Mountain Range to the desert’s east, these mountainous moving sand dunes add to the visual appeal of the landscape.
Currently, it ranks 109th out of 114 districts in Pakistan on the Human Development Index with approximately 87% of the population suffering from multi-dimensional poverty. Education which is to be a basic right of every individual on the planet is decried to the residents of Tharparkar with mean years of schooling standing as low as 3.8 years and 0.7 years for males and females respectively. Other necessities such as health coverage; immunization and availability of fresh clean drinking water also remains abysmally low, with the inhabitants of Thar living at least 100 years behind the major metropolis of Pakistan.
But while life remains difficult in this desert land, its people remain resilient and passionate; hopeful of an era where education, health and basic amenities will abound in every village; every town and every household of Thar.
We, at Thar Foundation, too believe in the potential of Thar and are resolute in our determination to help mother Thar evolve into a region of progress, prosperity and eternal sunshine.
Thar Foundation has been established with a mission to unlocking human potential and delivering change in high impact areas.
We believe in equality of all lives and together without partners aim to improve lives for thousands, if not millions, of individuals living in poor socio-economic conditions in Tharparkar. We view ourselves as catalysts of human development and retain individuals and issues at the heart of our philosophy of executing meaningful change.
Through a robust implementation strategy which we have developed in collaboration with both local and global partners, we are focused on delivering impact on areas of greatest need, through ways we can do most good. By employing graduated and sustainable interventions under the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals framework we seek to make Islamkot – the seat of our humanitarian interventions – the first SDG -compliant tehsil in Pakistan by 2024 – six years ahead of the global timeline.
We are focused on the brining the SDG Agenda to the fore in all our interventions. Singularly motivated by the framework we have proactively adopted these Global Goals as our guiding compass to execute systemic change in Tharparkar. From zero hunger to no poverty to provision of education and healthcare, our initiatives are designed to improve quality of human life in a sustainable manner.
Since these goals are a universal call-to-action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity, the Thar Foundation has adopted these Global Goals with a vision to uplift the communities in Thar and usher in a new era of peace and prosperity. By adopting the SDG Framework, the Thar Foundation has divided these 17 Global Goals into three key categories:
These goals will be met by all Thar Foundation interventions, which are designed to eradicate multidimensional poverty in Islamkot and its surroundings through a public-private partnership model, comprising:
End poverty in all its forms everywhere
Reduce inequality within and among countries
Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.
These goals while not directly and holistically relevant to the scope of Thar Foundation’s implementation ambit continue to remain a focus for our advocacy efforts through support of relevant organizations.
Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.
Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.
Prioritized goals under the SDG framework are the Thar Foundation’s focus as compliance to these goals will ultimately lead the Foundation to its final goal - end poverty for the people of Thar, protect the people of Thar and bring peace and prosperity into the region. As part of our prioritized goals, Thar Foundation will be focusing on the following areas:
The board follows strict governance and meets regularly and is responsible for setting up the strategic direction for Thar Foundation.
President & CEO
Ghias Khan is the 4th President & CEO of Engro Corporation. Since he came on board at the end of 2016, Ghias has been instrumental in revamping Engro’s strategy, culture, and global outreach. Ghias, along with the Board of Directors, deﬁned a powerful central narrative for Engro Corporation that has charted its path for years to come.
There have been several notable achievements for Engro under Ghias’ guidance thus far. He has stewarded Engro’s renewed commitment in petrochemicals with several growth initiatives at Engro Polymer & Chemicals and other greenﬁeld projects, consolidated the management of all energy assets under one platform – Engro Energy – with a long-term strategy of investing in the overall energy value chain, and paved the way for more cooperation with our long-time partner, Royal Vopak, through its entry into Engro Elengy, which continues to operate as the most utilized terminal in the world.
In addition, during his Presidency, Engro’s Thar Block II mine and power plant have continued to contribute 660 MW of consistent power to the national grid, beneﬁtting around 7 million Pakistanis in the process. Ghias’ contribution to the robust turnaround of the Engro Eximp Agriproducts’ rice business helped win it its ﬁrst-ever Top Exporter Award in 2018 and triggered an achievement of more than USD 20 million in exports in 2020 alone.
His leadership has helped position Engro Fertilizers as the premier seed-to-harvest solutions provider which, in 2020, achieved record urea production to play its part in food security for Pakistan while also undertaking several digitization initiatives that have established it as one of the largest e-sales companies in the country. Further, with a ﬁrm belief that connectivity is the conduit that enables social and ﬁnancial inclusion, Ghias was involved in the launch of a new vertical at Engro: telecommunications infrastructure, under which Engro Enfrashare has already partnered with all major telcos and deployed over 2,200 telecom towers across Pakistan by the close of 2021.
Recognizing that Engro’s people are its greatest asset, Ghias has focused on the talent development front and was the force behind the Engro Leadership Academy – a platform to develop effective leaders. Further, Ghias has laid the foundation for a digital future through Engro’s OneSAP initiative, endorsed as Pakistan’s largest digital transformation project. He is also leading the transition to sustainability at Engro. Under his leadership, Engro has committed to adopt and implement stakeholder capitalism metrics, sponsored by World Economic Forum’s International Business Council, becoming the first organization from Pakistan to sign this commitment.
Under his guidance, Engro has also earned numerous awards, both locally and globally, for enabling a thriving business environment, investing in the development of its people, upholding high standards of corporate governance, and promoting diversity, health, safety, & environment in the workplace.
As the former CEO of Inbox Business Technologies, an enterprise technology company that he co-founded in 2001 and remained with till 2015, Ghias grew the employees to over 1,900 and pivoted the company from a computer manufacturer to a systems integrator, and then to a technology-enabled digital services company.
Currently, Ghias serves as Chairman on the Boards of Engro Fertilizers Limited, Engro Polymer & Chemicals Limited, Engro Enfrashare (Pvt) Limited, and Engro Energy Limited. He also serves on the Board of Trustees of Engro Foundation – the social investment arm of Engro Corporation. In 2022, Ghias was elected President of the Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce & Industry (OICCI).
Ghias was part of the Hong Kong under 16 cricket team, has represented Pakistan in the junior bridge team, and, in 2015, won the amateur singles championship at Karachi Golf Club.
He holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration from the Institute of Business Administration, Karachi.
Mr. Naseer Memon is a renowned development professional, who has been working with prominent organizations in humanitarian and development sector, academia and corporate sector of Pakistan for more than 20 years. During past 15 years he has been working on senior management positions in reputed private and social sector organizations including Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company, Thar Foundation, Strengthening Participatory Organization (SPO), Leadership for Environment and Development (LEAD) Pakistan, Premier Oil International, WWF Pakistan, UNDP and Mehran University of Engineering and Technology, Sindh, Pakistan. Currently, he is General Manager CSR, Public Affairs and Communications at Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company. He looks after community development projects and stakeholders relationship of Thar Foundation. Mr. Memon writes on the subject of human development and natural disasters. These books are widely referred among humanitarian sector organizations and experts. Apart from these publications Mr. Memon has authored ten books on issues pertaining to governance, human development and conflicts. IUCN Pakistan and Sindh Environmental Protection Agency awarded his writings on environment and conservation issues. Mr. Memon is also invited as resource person on regional and international forums. He has conducted trainings and delivered presentations in USA, UK, Thailand and Bangladesh on humanitarian issues. He has also been participating in international forums.
Ahsan Zafar Syed is the CEO of Engro Energy Limited – one of the leading energy companies in Pakistan and a subsidiary of Engro Corporation. As the CEO he looks after various entities which include Engro Powergen Qadirpur Limited; Engro Powergen Thar Limited; Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company; Engro Energy Services Limited and Siddiqsons Energy Limited. Ahsan joined the Thar Foundation board in 2019.
Ahsan is a graduate of NED where he studied Mechanical Engineering and then pursued his post-graduate degree in USA. As a proud alumnus of NED, Ahsan has close to three decades of managing and leading multi-billion dollar, mega-scale projects such as the fertilizer expansion project of Engro Fertilizers, setting up of Pakistan’s largest rice processing facility in Muridke and most recently establishing the CPEC-endorsed multi-billion dollar Thar power and mining projects – which have successfully unearthed Pakistan’s large coal reserves in Thar and produced electricity through Pakistan’s own fuel source. He joined the EPQL Board in 2019.
Amir was appointed as the Chief Executive Officer of Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company and Thar Foundation on 8th October 2021. He has over 27 years of experience in general management and has led various teams in sales and marketing function across Pakistan, Australia and Africa.
Amir has managed various global and local mega brands and led cross functional teams to deliver business results. In his prior roles he has served as the Chief Executive Officer for Engro Agritrade, Chief Commercials Officer for Engro Fertilizer and CEO & Managing Director for Bayer Pakistan. He also served as the adjunct faculty at the Lahore School of Management Sciences (LUMS).
Dr. Mahesh Kumar Malani is currently serving as a Member of the National Assembly (MNA) of Sindh Province – Tharpakar District. He is also a Member of the Board of Directors of Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company. Prior to this, Malani served as a Member of the National Assembly of Pakistan from the year 2008 to 2013 and a Member of the Provincial Assembly from 2013 onwards. Dr. Malani holds an MBBS Degree from Liaquat University of Medical and Health Science (formerly known as Liaquat Medical College Jamshoro, Sindh).
Mr. Sami Aziz heads the Remedial & Structured Credits function at HBL. He has a total banking experience of 25 years spanning leadership roles in the areas of Corporate Banking, Risk Management and Corporate Rehabilitation. He is a Chartered Banker MBA from Bangor University, Wales U.K. During his career, he has served in a variety of institutions ranging from the mid-size commercial banks to large public/ private sector banks. Based on his varied exposure, he brings a unique blend of Business understanding, risk management & problem resolution.
Salman Burney is currently the director of Sindh Engro Coal and Mining Corporation. He on the board of Thal Ltd. and Agriauto Industries Ltd. and Vice President & General Manager at GlaxoSmithKline Iran Ltd. In the past, he held the position of President at Foreign Investor’s Chamber, Chief Executive Officer of GlaxoSmithKline Pakistan Ltd., and Vice President for GlaxoSmithKline Afghanistan Ltd.
Salman Burney started his career with ICI and worked with them in a number of businesses including Chemicals and Fibres, as Regional Personnel Manager for Africa and the Middle East, and as General Manager, Agrochemicals, and Seeds.
Mr. Salman Burney has a degree in Economics from Cambridge and was a founding Trustee of the Oxford & Cambridge Society Educational Trust.