In a widening clampdown a total number of 27 international aid groups have been shut down in Pakistan for working in un-authorized areas that has triggered the human rights activists to condemn the rising limitations on humanitarian efforts and free speech.

The Ministry of Interior has given the 27 NGOs a time period of 90 days to conclude their operations.

Some of the prominent NGOs that are included in the shut-down list are Action Aid, George Soros’ Open Society Foundations, Trocaire, Pathfinder International, Plan International, World Vision, Oxfam Novib, Danish Refugee Council and Marie Stopes.

Pakistan’s Minister of State for Interior Affairs, Talal Chaudhry said these NGOs were shut down because what they were doing is “beyond their mandate and for which they have no legal justification”.

He refused to give any particular examples but according to him, the expelled NGOs used “all their money” on administration and are not doing the work they reported of doing. They were working in areas where they are not authorized.

He said that after the 9/11 attack in 2001, the number of NGOs had grown immensely.
Many organizations joined hands to provide humanitarian assistance after Islamabad and United States allied together against war on terror.

“But there were also a number of NGOs that are used, knowingly or unknowingly for activities that conflict with Pakistan’s national interests,” Chaudhry said, adding that registration procedures are commonplace in other countries.

The Pakistan Humanitarian Forum (PHF) represents 63 international aid groups. The forum said that out of these, 11 of the members were given “letter of rejection” without any reason given. All of them had said that they will appeal.

 

A representative from one NGO who wants to remain anonymous said, “They must be having reasons for every (NGO) and those reasons should have been shared with the organizations.”

Pakistan is not the only one cracking down foreign charities. Since 2014, Narendera Modi’s government has tightened its observation of non-profit groups stating that they were acting against India’s national interests.