Nisar vows to resist foreign pressure over INGO issue

Source: Published in Politics on Friday, July 10, 2015

ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said on Thursday that international non-governmental organisations (INGOs) carrying out activities harmful for the country’s security and national interest would not be allowed to function even in the face of pressure by other states and multinational bodies.

He said his ministry was developing a transparent system to monitor the activities of NGOs in the country. An online system is being developed through which anyone can check activities, funding and spending of NGOs with just one click.

He was speaking in the Senate in response to a calling attention notice jointly moved by Saeed Ghani of the PPP and Hafiz Hamdullah of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (F).

The movers had sought the minister’s comments on the recent ban on Save the Children, an international NGO, and subsequent withdrawal of the ban by the government.

Chaudhry Nisar said that the ministry had sealed the offices of the NGO in Islam­abad on the directives of the economic affairs division, which regulated working of NGOs. He dispelled the impression that the offices reopened within 48 hours because of pressure from the US. The offices remained closed for about three weeks and reopened after the issues were resolved, he said.

He also denied that the decision to seal the NGO offices had any connection with Dr Shakil Afridi, who has been detained because of his alleged role in the killing of Al Qaida chief Osama bin Laden in a US forces’ operation in Abbottabad in 2011. “There was no mention of Dr Shakil Afridi in the charge- sheet prepared by the economic affairs division against Save the Children.”

The minister said that he could produce the evidence in the Senate to prove that several NGOs had been working in the country even without applying for registration.

“In the past, dozens of offices were opened and dozens of visas issued to the workers of NGOs which were involved in anti-state activities in the country,” he said.

“Why the man who was fond of saying ‘Pakistan first’ did not pay any attention to this issue,” the minister said in an apparent reference to former president retired General Pervez Musharraf.

He alleged that about 1,000 people in the guise of NGO workers had been involved in anti-state activities in the past. “Where were the rulers and intelligence agencies at that time,” he wondered, alleging that such practices continued even during the era of the previous PPP government.

Chaudhry Nisar said that after getting the responsibility of monitoring and regulating INGOs, his ministry had rejected visas of a number of foreign employees of INGOs, including Save the Children.

However, he said that all INGOs were not involved in wrongdoings and many of them were playing an important role in the country’s development.

The minister said that Pakistan had recently succeeded in getting two Africa-based INGOs barred from working in the country at a UN forum in the face of opposition from the US, India, Israel and even by the European Union. The INGOs were found involved in “unlawful activities” in Balochistan and Gilgit Baltistan.

The minister assured the house that the cases against 29 people arrested during demonstrations by teachers and polio workers in Islamabad would be withdrawn on the directive of Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani.

Earlier, the Senate passed four bills, including the Islamabad Capital Territory Local Government Bill, paving the way for holding LG polls in the capital for the first time.

Other bills are: the Federal Employees Benevolent Fund and Group Insurance (First and Second Amendment) Bills and the Capital University of Science and Technology Bill.

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