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February 20, 2020

Amid Pakistan avoiding FATF blacklist: INGO ‘Tobacco-Free Kids’ operating illegally in country

National

February 20, 2020

LAHORE: An International Non-Government Organisation (INGO), Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids has been operating in Pakistan at a time when the government is struggling hard to avoiding Financial Action Task Force (FATF) blacklist.

The campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Pakistan office is operating in Pakistan without registration with any government department specifically interior ministry which deals with the registration and monitoring of International Non-governmental Organisation(INGOs). Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is an advocacy organisation working to reduce tobacco use and its deadly consequences in the United States and other countries including Pakistan.

This is an INGO having Pakistan Office which is actively engaged in different activities in the country. However, sources revealed that the INGO was dealing with controlling use of tobacco and is not registered with the relevant authorities. The Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) official confirmed that there is no data of the registration of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids or its Pakistan office with the SECP. The organisation is not even registered within the category of Section 42 of the Companies Act which deals with the registration of the non-profit organisations and NGOs. To further confirm the status of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids or its Pakistan office with the interior ministry, it was confirmed that CTFK has not been registered with the interior ministry. It is worth mentioning that this INGO deals on continuous basis with the government departments like Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination. However, no one in the ministry has considered checking the legal status of the organisation that they are collaborating with on regular basis.

Presently, interior ministry is following a very strict procedure for the registration of INGOs including clearance from the intelligence and law-enforcement agencies. At the same time, Economic Affairs Division also deals with the international organisations. It is important to mention that the National Inherent Risk Assessment (NRA) on money-laundering and terror financing has found that over half of the functionally active non-profit organisations (NPOs) in Pakistan fall under the FATF defined NPOs as these are involved in service-type activity as well as raising or disbursing charitable funds.

An expert said the SECP cannot legally regulate and monitor all non-profit organisations (NPOs) as mostly ie around 15,000 NPOs are registered and governed under the provincial laws. In line with the SOPs of National Counter-Terrorism Authority (Nacta), the SECP is following procedures to regulate the NPOs but most of them are registered with the provincial governments.

According to the updated guidelines for non-profit organisations (NPOs) issued by the SECP, besides federally and provincially regulated NPOs and INGOs, there is a large number of unregistered charities operating in the country whose exact number is not known. Despite less resource availability or access to funding from formal sources, they may pose greater risk if they have links with international terrorist networks or UN-listed entities, or their associated entities. Therefore, unregistered NPOs were assigned high risk in National Inherent Risk Assessment.

The working of any INGO without registration in Pakistan poses high risk in the absence of monitoring due to global pressure to check illegal funding to the INGOs and NPOs under the guidelines of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).There is an immediate need to register, regulate and monitor all such INGOs which are working for multiple causes but not registered with any government organisation. A senior government official said the INGOs receiving foreign funding, foreign contribution or financial assistance in Pakistan are required to get registered with the interior ministry. INGOs are required to declare all foreign funding with the interior ministry. These conditions apply to all such INGOs having offices in Pakistan. He added that all INGOs are required to get registered in Pakistan if they wanted to establish sub-offices in the country. Without registration, the INGOs cannot establish sub-offices in the country under the registration policy of interior ministry, official added.

Country head of Tobacco Free Kids Pakistan said the INGO have no office in Pakistan so registration is not required. Further, he said their partners attend the meeting on their behalf. However, he refused to tell details of the partners. The interior ministry’s spokesperson was contacted repeatedly to get his version but he did not reply.