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All NGOs asked to register with Punjab Charity Commission

National

July 3, 2020

LAHORE: The Punjab Government has made it mandatory for all NGOs in the province to register with Punjab Charity Commission’s online portal which will be open for registration from July 5 to August 5.

The NGOs haven’t received any notification from the Home Department yet under whose umbrella the commission is, but “the Social Welfare Department has sent a WhatsApp message and a link to the NGOs through which they can register with the web portal”, said Mubarak Ali Sarwar of AGAHE (Association for Gender Awareness & Human Empowerment).

All NGOs must register themselves here irrespective of under whatever law they are registered. The Punjab Assembly passed the Punjab Charity Act in 2018. The idea is one window operation.

“There is no talk about cancellation of registrations,” he said. The Punjab Charity Commission is being headed by the additional chief secretary, Home Department. “Overall it’s good that the NGOs will register,” said Bushra Khaliq of WISE (Women in Struggle for Empowerment). NGOs are already registered under the Societies Act, SECP or Social Welfare Department. NGOs registered under the Societies Act are bound to submit a report. Likewise, the Economic Affairs Division keeps a check on the NGOs that receive foreign funding. “Had the laws been strengthened wherever the NGOs are already registered, it would have been better,” she said.

Salman Abid, a senior person in the NGOs and a media practitioner, said the government wants to regulate the NGOs under the National Action Plan. “That’s fine. The way to speedy service is providing one-window operation while the government is opening more windows which will make things more difficult for NGOs. The government wants to have more check on foreign funding. NGOs will have to take NOCs (No Objection Certificates) from the Interior Ministry now. This will create more problems for the civil society and delays are feared. If funds are released after the project deadline what good that will be? There is trust deficit between the state and civil society which is very sad. The government should facilitate NGOs. There is a need to change the mindset,” said Salman Abid.

“It’s impossible for the government to achieve sustainable development goals without the help of NGOs. The government should facilitate NGOs but unfortunately space for civil society is shrinking not just in Pakistan but in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka as well,” he said.