Blog-Off 2008: Musharraf Gives Up Red Crescent Presidency

Cross Blog is never one to shy away from hot topics. And today, thanks to our Blog-Off moderators, we’ve been asked to comment on the breaking news of the day – the resignation of Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf.

Not only is Musharraf giving up presidential duties for his country, he’s also leaving behind another post…one that’s much closer to the hearts of Red Crossers around the world. As of this morning, Musharraf is no longer President of the Pakistan Red Crescent Society (PRCS).

You read that correctly; the President of Pakistan, as per the Constitution of PRCS, is also the President of PRCS. While the President isn’t responsible for day-to-day decision-making, he IS responsible for nominating a Chairman who, with the help of a “managing body,” runs the affairs of the society. You can see more about the PRCS structure right here.

But while PRCS and the American Red Cross (ARC) are both national Red Cross societies, our governance is far from the same. For example, George W. Bush is not the American Red Cross president…in fact, we’re not a government agency at all.

Still, there are some international similarities. Here’s a quick glance at Pakistan and Oregon. You might be surprised at just how alike we are!


Pakistan: A disaster-prone country threatened by floods, drought and earthquakes.
Oregon: A disaster-prone state threatened by floods, tsunamis and earthquakes.

Pakistan: PRCS Chairman Saeed Ahmed Qureshi is implementing new strategies for disaster management, including identifying disaster-prone areas and building local capacity.
Oregon: OTC Director Eric Corliss is implementing new strategies for disaster management, including identifying disaster-prone areas along Oregon’s coast and building local capacity.

Pakistan: American Red Cross Board Chair Bonnie McElveen-Hunter visited the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in Washington, D.C.
Oregon: American Red Cross CEO Gail McGovern visited the “embassy” of the Oregon Trail Chapter in Portland, Ore.

Pakistan: The American Red Cross received the Star of Sacrifice award from (now former) Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf.
Oregon: The Oregon Red Cross received the Bronze Beacon award from OCIABC President Abigail Dougherty.

Pakistan: Rural villages were devastated by a massive earthquake in October, 2005.
Oregon: Rural communities were devastated by massive flooding in December, 2007.

Pakistan: PRCS has restructured national and provincial headquarters to make the society more responsive.
Oregon: ARC has restructured national headquarters and created regional chapters (OTC is one of them!) to make the organization more responsive.

Sure, we’d love to be a little more political and talk about things like corruption and wasted (water) resources, but the reality is that neutrality on all sides is vital to our organization’s success. With that said, good luck to the Pakistan Red Crescent Society as they move towards new leadership!

See what the Water Blog posted here and vote with your comments below!


  • I’ve been a Red Crosser for 20 years and had no idea of that connection. Interesting stuff.

  • BOR-ing.

    And PS: eathquakes and flooding are not the same thing just because you put “massive” in front of them.

    Nice try.

  • Well, one could add that both Oregon and Pakistan have mountain ranges in which it’s easy to get lost.

    You did get me thinking, though, about the advisability of connecting the organization to the national government. Is that commonly done on the Red Crescent side?

    Oh, just to be clear, getting me to think counts as a vote.

  • Anonymous, evidently you’re not a writer. The point wasn’t to say that flooding and earthquakes were the same thing…just to echo the same language. You know, point-counterpoint.

    You water blog people lack creativity. And fun.

  • Wow! I would have assumed that because indepence was one of our core values as a larger organziation, they would be structured more like us!

  • I certainly didn’t know about this connection. Doubt many others did either. You’ve got my vote.

  • Very interesting – loved the connections and the way this story highlighted our simularities rather than focusing on our differences! You’ve got my vote.

  • I too am surprised, but should not have been, that not all countries had the type of seperation that we do between the government and the Red Cross/Crescent organizations.

    Nice Post

  • I enjoyed your post! It’s obvious that you took some time to research many key points instead of focusing on one topic. Plus, you guys are more fun. Way to go, Red Crossers!

  • Lise/Robin – while I must give you credit for a nice post, I still like the Water Blog’s better because corrupt officials make for juicy news — I can’t believe that man had philanthropic connections, however.

    No Cross Blog vote from me, but could you really expect that from your evil nemisis? Really?

  • I appreciate that you guys tried to keep things positive rather than mud (or water) slinging. Three cheers for Cross Blog!

  • I am fascinated by the fact that any sort of Red Crescent leadership is provided by the president of the country. How does that jibe with the neutrality/impartiality question?

    Food for thought…and you have my vote.

  • I have to vote for this one too (just ignore all the Red Cross symbols hiding behind the curtain on my blog). I actually did know how Pakistan structured their Red Cross, because I’ve had several students from the country as members of my community service club. Other countries are similarly structured… it doesn’t necessarily seem to be of a religious base, but more how their government is as a whole. Hm. This might be a good research project for history…

  • Who would have thought I’d learn so much about Musharraf by reading two Portland blogs? I feel so much more edjimicated. Cross Blog wins this one.

  • Interesting that “Anonymous” said the Cross Blog is trying to “keep things positive” when the most insulting comments of the day showed up on the Water Blog. Hm. Food (or water) for thought.

  • Marilou,

    Sadly, I see equal comments of “boring” on both blogs. We will do our best to entertain everyone, but this is a tough crowd!

    And it goes without saying that we’re all for keeping comments positive on both blogs. If you can’t say anything nice, vote for the other blog!

    – Lise

  • I question the dual duties of Pakistan’s president, but I still found this informative. Nice work!

  • In the Olympic spirit, I think you have to add some difficulty points to Red Cross for this one. Musharraf’s connection to corruption around water in his country is known and has been reported before. I had no idea that he was in any way connected to Red Cross (called Red Crescent in that part of the world). Well done!

  • I am amazed! You guys did such a great job with a difficult topic. I think this should automatically make you win! One vote for me!!

  • great tie-in to news of the day, well researched and funny blog post. this fellow blogger is very impressed. a great way to kickoff the blog-off

  • Well played… I never knew the president of a country could also be the head of such an organization. I have learned something new for the day. Thank you Cross Blog.

  • How does having the president of the Pakistan be the president of the PRCS comply with the ICRC’s tenant of Independance?

    Good post.

  • Nice research. Very thoughtful and interesting. Obviously, there are differences, but they are contrasted well.

  • I was invited to join this blog spot by a Red Cross employee. Compared to the blogs that I see I am very new and green to the world of Red Cross. If this effort is just to get comments this will be my only one. If this effort is to get new people interested in and interacting with the Red Cross then I must say that this article has very little hope in causing me enough interest to bring me back. There are so many issues in the world. There are so many things to discuss. This is what you chose? How do we help Africa for real rather than just setting up a system with self propetuates and always needs bllions of dollars poured into it? As South America polarizes with much of the issues steming from the stark contrast between very rich and very poor what are long term solutions to keep peace and help everyone? With the international reach of the Red Cross I would think that such issues would be a better use of your time. They may not be natural disasters and there may not be easy answers but they are emergencies and that is what you are supposed to be good at right?

  • Thank your for your comment, anonymous-first-time-reader.

    While this particular topic was chosen by our moderators for this week’s special Blog Off contest (which, yes, we’re hoping brings some new readers to the Red Cross and inspires them to get involved), we often post about many other important international topics.

    To name just a few we’ve recently talked about:

    The ICRC’s response in the Georgia crisis:

    The controversy in Columbia the importance of Neutrality:

    And how we connect refugees through our tracing services:

    I hope this gives you a broader scope of our international outreach. We also discuss disasters (both local and international), blood issues, and ways to get prepared. Just click on the red words in ALL CAPS at the top of our page to find posts in those categories.

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