ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has said that NGOs would not be allowed to operate in sensitive areas.
Talking to newsmen at the Parliament House on Monday, he said Save the Children, an international aid group, would be permitted to partially resume its operations in the country.
The minister said that all NGOs operating in Pakistan would have to get themselves registered within six months. International as well as local NGOs would be given permission to operate only after scrutiny clearance, he added.
“The government will introduce a policy to regulate the NGO sector because the current laws are vague. We want to put in place a central law, simple and online registration and a transparent accountability system.”
He said the government would complete the job within six months and the NGOs would keep on working during this period and new visas would not be issued.
Chaudhry Nisar said that all NGOs, including Save the Children, had been allowed conditionally to work for six months. “I want to say very categorically that if the NGOs did not get themselves registered within six months or refused to do so, they would not be allowed to work in the country.”
He said that after negotiations for more than 10 days, 13 offices of Save the Children were allowed to operate in the country, except Fata and other sensitive areas. Save the Children has 73 offices in Pakistan. Its foreign staff had already been refused visa, he added.
The minister said an intelligence report had been prepared in 2012 about a project of Save the Children, but the then government took no action. “We have closed this project.” The NGO had applied for re-registration last year, he added.
“We have received a report that some of its offices were working beyond their mandate and charter,” he said.
Chaudhry Nisar said he had never said that Save the Children was involved in anti-state activities.
He said thousands of NGOs were working in Pakistan, but 38-40 per cent of them were not registered. “There is neither a data bank of these NGOs nor a system of audit or accountability,” he said.
The minister confirmed that the prime minister had approved a proposal to assign the work of regulating NGOs to the interior ministry. Currently the job was being done by the Economic Affairs Division.
He said that several NGOs were doing a good job, but some others were working against the national interest and the government would ban them.
Chaudhry Nisar said NGOs would be asked to evolve a self-regulatory system. “We have closed several NGOs since last year because they were not working under their charter,” he said.
Published in Dawn, June 23rd, 2015