Friday September 22, 2023

Interior Ministry to register INGOs now: Nisar

Says ban on Save the Children not lifted

By our correspondents
June 23, 2015
ISLAMABAD: The Minister for Interior, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, has said that in future the Ministry of Interior will register International Non-Governmental Organisations (INGOs) as previously it was done by the Economic Affairs Division (EAD). He said that the ban on INGO Save the Children had not yet been lifted.
Chaudhry Nisar brushed aside the impression that the United States, India and Israel had developed any nexus on the working of International Non-Governmental Organisations (INGOs) in Pakistan.
“Pakistan views the United States as a friendly country and most of the INGOs belonging to the US are providing excellent services to the people of Pakistan. India and Israel are not supposed to have any association with INGOs working in Pakistan. Likewise, Pakistan would not see any link with the organistions working in the two countries.”
Talking to The News here outside the Parliament House on Monday, he mentioned the long history of US INGOs working in Pakistan and providing valuable services to the people in various spheres. Chaudhry Nisar was of the view that the NGOs had performed well in many fields. “In fact, in certain areas, the government organisations and departments have failed to deliver but the NGOs have been providing solid results,” the minister added.
He said that the registration, monitoring and security clearance of all the NGOs would now be done by the Interior Ministry. Previously, the Economic Affairs Division used to deal with the matter. He said the decision had been taken by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in the light of a report prepared by a committee headed by Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Foreign Affairs Syed Tariq Fatemi. The registration of NGOs would now be done online in a transparent manner. He said there would be a transparent accountability system detailing sources of funding and objectives of the NGO.
The minister said the government would encourage the NGOs for self-regulatory

system. He said all the local and foreign NGOs would have to get them registered or re-registered within six months and those not doing so or refused registration would have to leave Pakistan. He said no NGO would be allowed to work in Fata, Gilgit-Baltistan and other declared security zones. If the government found any NGO working against the law or its declared charter, action would be taken against it.
He said that currently there were thousands of NGOs in the country but about 40 percent were not registered and there was no database of these organisations. About Save the Children, the minister said its project on which there were reservations was closed last year. The government did not issue new visas for INGOs except the ones which were formally approved.
Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan maintained that there should be a transparent accountability system for the NGOs in the country. There was not a single law for NGOs for registration or getting approval before they could start operating in the country, he added. There was no data bank for these NGOs, no system of audit or accountability right now, he said and revealed that currently thousands of NGOs were working in Pakistan of which 38 percent to 40 percent were unregistered. “There is no proper system regarding the NGOs in the country right now.” On Save the Children, Nisar said, “I did not order the reopening of the INGO’s Islamabad offices.” Earlier this month, authorities sealed the offices of Save the Children. The INGO had previously been accused of involvement with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Dr Shakeel Afridi in tracking down the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad. It was reported that soon after the interior ministry suspended its first order and let the international NGO to continue working in the country.
Talking about Save the Children, the minister said, “It is not an enemy of the state; it has been registered since 1997 and is a globally-recognised NGO but during the PPP tenure in 2012, some intelligence reports were uncovered in relation to it.” However, he said, the previous government had not taken any action. In a similar context, he said, no visas had been issued for foreign representatives of Save the Children nor was the government intending to do so until the new policy was implemented.
Chaudhry Nisar said Save the Children applied for approval in 2014 but their plea was still under process. The minister said NGOs would be consulted with regard to the new policy, adding that all the NGOs would be encouraged to adopt self regulatory systems.
On June 12, authorities ordered the closure of Save the Children in Pakistan on grounds that the international aid group was “working against the country”. The minister said that no NGO would be allowed to work against the national and Islamic values.