RDF was formed by Dr. M. Sadiq Malik, with a declaration of intent signed by nine persons at a meeting held at the residence of Dr. Sadiq Malik. The declaration said,
“We, the following group of Pakistanis, who share the belief that a charitable, non- governmental, non-political and non-profit making organization, sensitive to the needs and aspirations of the rural poor, can play a vital role in support of the government rural uplift programme, have decided to establish Rural Development Foundation of Pakistan with Rural Volunteers Corps as its operational arm.”
The foundation was registered as a Public Welfare Organization under the Societies Registration Act XXI of 1860 with the Registrar, Joint Stock Companies, Lahore, Punjab, vide No. RP/1959/S/78/693 dated 15 June, 1978.
Within 6 months of its establishment, the foundation was granted approval of the government of Pakistan for registration with the various international bodies and UN agencies. A circular letter No. 2(2), IBRD/IER/78 dated 31st December 1978 was issued by the Economic Affairs Division of the government of Pakistan in December 1978 to all the concerned agencies to have the foundation registered with their organizations.
The office of the foundation was established at 26, Hill Road, F-6/3 Islamabad at the residence of Dr. Sadiq Malik and all the expenses which include staff salary, transportation, and other administrative expenses were all borne by Dr. Sadiq Malik himself. The foundation badly needed financial support and voluntary services in order to work effectively on the lines envisaged in its aims and objectives. It was a difficult period for the foundation, however the struggle continued. It was, therefore, decided that a delegation of the office bearers of the RDF should call on the president of Pakistan and apprise him of the aims and objectives together with the action programmes of the foundation with a view to enlist the support of the government and private sector. In the meantime, the foundation’s office was shifted from the residence of Dr. Malik to his commercial premises in Jinnah Super Market, Islamabad.
A delegation under the leadership of Chairman of RDF called on the President of Pakistan and explained to him the charter of the foundation. The president was briefed about RDF’s projected contribution towards the national development. The President recognized the efforts of the founding members and gave his consent to become its Patron-in-Chief. A timely and valuable grant of Rs. 30,00,000/- was sanctioned which served as seed money. We also directed Capital Development Authority (CDA) to allot a plot of land to the foundation to establish its Head Office. Having assumed the position of Patron-in-Chief, The President issued a message in which he urged all sections of the society to join hands and to make maximum contribution in the form of funds, ideas and time to enable the foundation to achieve its objectives. An extract from his message is reproduced below:
“As we all know that a nation whose rural population is rustic and passive can hardly hope to possess an active and progressive much less self-reliant economy. The villages on which depends the economy, solidarity, integrity and security of Pakistan, present a gloomy picture of poverty, food insufficiency, ill health, , malnutrition and unemployment. It is a tragic reality that in past 35 years, we have not been able to meet even the basic needs of our rural population. No government, howsoever affluent it may be can solve all the rural problems without the participation of private sector. I, therefore feel that creation of Rural Development Foundation, as an NGO is a step in the right direction. I congratulate the pioneers who conceived the idea and establish this organization, which can play a vital role in the uplift of our rural areas where majority of our population lives. Keeping in view the noble and constructive role which RDF can play in the rural development, I have no hesitation to become the Patron-in-Chief of the foundation as per its constitution. Appreciating the difficulties and constraints faced by volunteer organizations, I assure the foundation all possible support to achieve its objectives in the national interest. ”