Islamabad:A number of foreign missions in Pakistan have expressed concern on the current registration process for International Non-Governmental Organisations (INGOs) writing Interior minister that the process is having negative impact on delivery of service.
A joint letter, recently sent to Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, seven embassies have requested the minister to share details of the procedure of registering INGOs and process for appealing decisions on registration.
A group of ambassadors and high commissioners including Jurek Juszczyk, acting High Commissioner of Australia; Perry Claderwood, High Commissioner of Canada; Jean-Francois Cautain, Ambassador of the European Union; Dr Tilo Klinner, In-Charge Affairs of Norway; Ingrid Johansson, Ambassador of Sweden; and Richard Crowder, acting High Commissioner of United Kingdom jointly wrote the letter which is also copied to adviser to PM on Foreign Affairs, secretary Economic Affairs Division, Islamabad.
The letter with subject “INGOs registration” sought an update on INGOs registrations and a timeline for completing the registration process.
The letter further read: “We remain fully supportive of a clear and transparent registration process. However, we are concerned that the registration process is having a negative impact on delivery of humanitarian and development assistance. All the INGOs, which we have engaged with over the past months also support the concept of registration but are keen that the process be brought to close.”
“It was encouraging to see recent reporting stating that the registration applications for 73 INGOs have been approved. We would like to request more information about which INGOs have been, and which allegedly have not been, granted registration, so that we can understand the impact this may have on delivering our humanitarian and development programmes. We also request any information which you can share about the process for appealing decisions on registration. We understand the government has plans for ongoing monitoring, annual reviews of INGOs and plans to set up an INGO coordination unit in Ministry of Interior. We would like to request more details on these plans,” letter read.
The group of mission wrote foreign missions international and national NGOs remain vital implementing partners for both donors and the Pakistan government, and millions of people benefit from projects delivered by INGOs and national INGOs.
INGOs are also well placed to support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, the goals defined in Pakistan’s Vision 2025 and the implementation of the 27 conventions under GSP plus, the letter concluded.
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, in an official communication a few days ago, announced to complete the INGOs’ registration under the new policy by the end of July. In June, there have been marathon meetings of the INGOs wing of the ministry. However, little is shared with the INGOs, media and the public on this issue, adding to the concerns of INGOs that term this procedure one-sided and without any consultation or feedback.
A meeting chaired by the interior minister recently, has announced approval of 73 INGOs till now. The ministry also declared that 23 INGOs have been blacklisted and barred from working in Pakistan and asked to wind up their offices in the next three months. However, they are allowed to file a review application before the ministry. Applications of another 47 INGOs are under process.
According to the latest figures, updated by the Interior Ministry, as many as 143 INGOs have applied online for registration under the new policy. Among the 143 registration applications of INGOs, according to the Interior Ministry’s record, 44 INGOs are from the United States, 26 from the United Kingdom, 15 from Germany, seven from Switzerland, six each from the Netherlands and France, five each from Italy and Japan, four each from Canada and Saudi Arabia, two each from Norway, Ireland, Turkey, Australia and Pakistan, and one each from Denmark, Belgium, Austria, Mexico, Thailand, Kenya, China, Kuwait, Qatar, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan.
A recent meeting of Pakistan Humanitarian Forum (PHF), which is a consortium of more than 60 INGOs functioning in Pakistan, discussed the outcome of the last two meetings of the ministry officials about INGOs. Most of the INGOs were of the view that the process of the registration was one-sided and no INGO is given any charge-sheet before being barred from working.
Under the 2015 new policy of registration of INGOs, the role of intelligence agencies has been broadened and the process of registration has been made complicated. Earlier, the INGOs were mostly working through Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) and acknowledgments of the country’s Economic Affairs Division (EAD). After the approval of new policy in the last quarter of 2015, registration of all the INGOs in Pakistan was cancelled with the direction to apply for fresh registration.