Pakistan Shuts foreign hand over Security Concerns
Non-government organizations also referred to as NGOs are integral part of a developing society. They play a pivotal role in reshaping a community, especially which has been scarred by years and years of tyranny or terrorism. The need to form the aforementioned organizations find its roots post the havoc inflicted by World War II. These groups educated and nurtured countries inflicted by the wars and hoisted them towards progress from their debris. Similarly, owed to its war-torn status against terrorism from within and around the border, Pakistan has facilitated numerous International and national NGOs to aid in its progress on humanitarian grounds. Unfortunately, the foes of this nation considered it an opportunity to hide behind the veil of such organizations and proceeded to conspire against the sovereignty of our republic to destabilize its efforts to provide a peaceful and harmonious society.
In 2014, former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar had unveiled a policy for international NGOs, wherein they would require the government’s consent to gather funds and operate. “NGOs working against Pakistan’s strategic, security, economic or other interests will have their registration cancelled,” - he said, adding that "any organization restrained from working will have the right to appeal,” he was quoted as saying. Despite that, there were many INGOs operating in Pakistan which failed to submit their documents and registration was not done in time. Multiple notices were sent to these NOGs but no reasonable notice was taken by them. Time relaxation was given but still the registration process was incomplete.
"The Government of Pakistan accords importance to the role and contribution of INGOs in support of its socio-economic policies and programs. In 2015, the Government of Pakistan put together a policy framework to streamline and facilitate the work of INGOs in the country. As part of this framework, all INGOs present in Pakistan or desirous of operating in Pakistan are required to register themselves with the Ministry of Interior by signing MoU.
Attention all INGOs! You must register with the Ministry of Interior within 10 days or your will be stopped from operating in Pakistan.
All INGOs are hereby directed to have their annual financial audits done from any one of the approved audit firms of Category (A) & (B) available on the official website of the State Bank of Pakistan. The cost of audit shall be borne by the respective INGO".
It was officially stated by Interior ministry of Pakistan that all INGO's working in Pakistan need to sign MoU, register themselves in Ministry of interior and have annual and financial audit as soon as possible.18 INGO's were asked to stop their activities and leave Pakistan in seven days. 9 of the INGO's were US based, 3 belonged to Britain and 2 from Holland.
These NGO's have been found involved in suspicious activities in contradiction to their set objectives. They were found providing cover to foreign spies involved in anti-state activities.
Their connection with Indian High Commission have also been revealed. The INGOs were found conducting surveys of sensitive installations under the cover of humanitarian works and sharing data with hostile agencies. They had opened branch offices in other parts of the country without following the proper legal processes, thereby spreading their clandestine networks even deeper into the country. Reportedly few INGOs attempted to collect data during General Elections 2018, possibly to influence the results. A few NGOs were reported to have activities along Pakistan - Afghanistan border.
Pakistan is not the only country in the world that has put ban on INGOs for working against the national interest. India just in the neighborhood has a history of banning and grey listing the INGOs. Registration of 18,868 NGOs under the foreign contribution regulation act were cancelled by the Home Ministry of India between 2011 and 2017 for violating laws. Russia is also an example. When Maria Zakharova, the Spokesperson for MoFA Russia was asked about what were the possible consequences of Pakistan after banning INGOs, the spokesperson replied: "This is your internal agenda and commenting about that would not be possible and correct". She also added "unfortunately In recent years Russia has faced certain countries and activities of organizations related with the US and other countries of Europe. These INGOs were not conducting the activities that were officially stated"
It is vital to note that the Government of Pakistan accords importance to INGOs on the basis of their contribution in rebuilding a better and a serene society. The country had always welcomed them with open arms and streamlined policies to facilitate them in the best manner. However, by closing down certain INGOs found involved in mischievous activities it has send a strong message to the world:
“Pakistan will never compromise the safety of its people and sovereignty. Let it be known to those who ploy to defame and challenge the Islamic Republic of Pakistan!”