18 INGOs asked to shut down operations after due process, EU told


—Interior minister tells EU Pakistan’s security won’t be compromised

—Sources say INGOs were involved in anti-state activities

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Tuesday told the European Union (EU) that 18 international non-governmental organisations (INGOs) had been asked to shut down operations in Pakistan after due process due to security concerns.

The announcement was made by State Minister for Interior Shehryar Khan Afridi during his meeting with a delegation of the EU led by Ambassador Jean-François Cautain. Political Counsellor Frank-Olivier Roux and Human Rights Counsellor Javeria Kabani and others were also present.

According to an official statement issued after the meeting, the minister said that no one could be allowed to get involved in actions against the state. The minister said that the government would ensure the security of the lives and assets of Pakistani citizens.

“No one would be allowed to create instability in the country under the cover of international or local aid workers as there will be no compromise on the country’s security,” the minister said.

Afridi said that the supremacy of the rule of law was a major objective of the government. The minister lauded the services and sacrifices of Pakistani law enforcement agencies and the armed forces in the war on terror.

Sources told Pakistan Today that the EU delegation, however, raised the concerns by the EU countries over banning of the 18 INGOs and requested the minister to review the decision.

The sources quoted the interior minister as telling the delegation that Pakistan had taken the decision after a thorough investigation, which found that certain elements were using these INGOs as cover and were actively involved in anti-state activities in Azad Jammu & Kashmir, Gilgit Baltistan, Balochistan and parts of Sindh.

“The minister told the EU delegation that the government was taking measures to safeguard the country from internal and external threats and no compromise would be made in this regard,” sources said.

An official of the interior ministry said that in the absence of a clear policy, some of the INGOs were successful in penetrating various sectors of society and had accomplished agenda of their donors.

The source said that these INGOs were trying to influence Pakistani security and religious matters, besides breaching social norms and customs.

“After the formulation of policy framework, it was decided to bring all INGOs under scrutiny resulting in the formulation of INGOs Policy – 2015. Reportedly, so far, 145 INGOs have applied for registration with the ministry of the interior under the new policy,” the official said.

The official added that during scrutiny of these INGOs, it was revealed by sensitive institutions that 63 of these organisations were working against Pakistan’s security and solidarity.

“After constant follow-ups by relevant ministries along with sensitive institutions, the interior minister served notices to 49 INGOs (in November 2017 and August 2018) for closing down their operations in the country. Out of these, 18 INGOs filed representation against the ministry’s decision and they were given ample opportunity to clear their position,” the official added.

The official said that the appeals of these 18 international non-governmental organisations were unanimously rejected by a special committee constituted for the said purpose.

“On October 2, the ministry issued final notices to these INGOs to wind up their operations in the country within 60 days. However, these organisations have been asked to apply after six months on revised MoU for their registration,” the official added.

The official said that 40 INGOs did not even bother to get themselves registered and were working in Pakistan without registration. “The interior ministry is also considering taking legal action against them very soon,” the official added.

It is important to note that Pakistan has allowed 81 INGOs from USA, UK, Germany and other countries to work inside Pakistan, which are contributing positively towards various development/welfare projects.

The official said that some of those INGOs were working as front offices of HIAs. “They were caught trying to influence electoral process, organise fake immunization campaigns, carrying out spying of strategic sites and illegal data collection etc.”

The official said that action would be taken against those INGOs soon.