ISLAMABAD: The government on Thursday rejected concerns that the working of international non-government organisations (INGOs) in the country was being restricted and the new process for their registration was non-transparent.
A statement issued by the Foreign Office sought to address the concerns expressed by a number of donor countries and media. It listed the concerns as alleged lack of clarity or insufficient information on grounds for rejection, non-transparent process, and attempts at constraining the space for INGOs and civil society in Pakistan.
“We remain committed to pursuing an open and transparent INGO policy, which is underpinned by national laws, rules and regulations. There is an inter agency mechanism that is mandated inter alia to examine applications for registration, review necessary documentation, undertake monitoring and evaluation and attend to appeals,” the statement said, noting that the policy was fully aligned with nationally determined development priorities and needs. It underscored state’s right to formulate laws, policies and regulatory frameworks in view of national context, circumstances and needs.
Recently, envoys of several countries asked the government to be flexible on the issue of registration of INGOs.
A letter signed by the envoys of the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, Norway, Switzerland and the European Union read: “In the interests of the Pakistani people and our ongoing cooperation, we respectfully seek your leadership to help shape a more cooperative and nuanced arrangement on INGOs.”
The letter was written after the government on Oct 2 directed 18 INGOs to wrap up their operations within 60 days following the dismissal of appeals against rejection of their applications for registration.
The envoys had alleged “lack of transparency” in the registration process and regretted that the affected organisations and their donor governments had not been adequately explained about the reasons for the rejection of their appeals.
“In terms of concerns regarding lack of clarity or insufficient information on grounds for rejection, we believe that such concerns primarily have arisen from misunderstanding. In our view, the grounds for rejection are clearly laid out in the policy document provisions. With regard to transparency, our policy framework is very transparent. All information on registration requirements, required documentation, INGO policy document, MoU and details about funding, monitoring, disclosure, review and appeals mechanism are available on Ministry of Interior’s online portal. Moreover, all requirements of due process were met. Representatives of all 18 INGOs were given the right to appeal and the opportunity to provide additional details and discuss mutual concerns,” the FO said.
Published in Dawn, November 16th, 2018