US urges Pakistan to reconsider its clampdown on aid agencies

The International Rescue Committee, along with several partner organizations, is collaborating with the Pakistan Reading Project to teach more than one million girls and boys to read in a country which has one of the highest child illiteracy rates in the world. (Photo Courtesy: International Rescue Committee website)
Updated 05 December 2018
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US urges Pakistan to reconsider its clampdown on aid agencies

  • Authorities reject registration applications filed by 18 INGOs
  • Government says it is committed to pursuing an open and transparent policy

ISLAMABAD: The US State Department on Tuesday urged Pakistan to reconsider its decision to suspend the licenses of several International Nongovernmental Organizations (INGOs) operating in the country forcing them to close shop.
“We encourage Pakistan to engage with all international partners who share their commitment to a bright future for Pakistan,” Heather Nauert, US State Department Spokesperson said in a statement.
Nauert said that Washington recognizes the vital role played by the INGOs in the country, in collaboration with Pakistani institutions, on causes ranging from disaster management to human and economic development, to promoting human rights and democratic values.
“These organizations, which also employ thousands of Pakistanis countrywide, share the government of Pakistan’s and the Pakistani people’s vision for a vibrant, healthy, democratic, and prosperous country,” the US official said.
She added that the US thanks these organizations and their employees for their contributions to Pakistan’s development. “In that context, the United States regrets that the government of Pakistan has required 18 INGOs, many of which have been working in Pakistan for many years, to close their operations in Pakistan,” the statement read. 
Reacting to the statement, Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry issued a press release on November 15 stating that the government had carefully reviewed the concerns being expressed about some of the INGOs’ working in Pakistan.
“Broadly, three concerns have been highlighted. One, there is a lack of clarity or insufficient information on the grounds for rejection. Secondly, the INGO registration process is non-transparent. Third, the decision on the closure of operations would somehow constrain the space for INGOs and civil society in Pakistan.”
However, the Foreign Ministry re-affirmed the government’s commitment to pursue an open and transparent INGO policy, which is underpinned by national laws, rules, and regulations. “Pakistan’s INGO policy framework is fully aligned with nationally determined development priorities and needs. We recognize and appreciate the assistance from the donor community and INGOs,” the Foreign Ministry statement read.
“As for the shrinking space, the evidence is contrary to assertions. Out of 141 that had applied for registration since October 2015, the applications of 74 INGOs have been approved which is more than 50% approval rate. These numbers do not count the applications of other INGOs which are being processed,” it added.


Pakistanis between hope and despair as Modi reelected Indian PM

Updated 24 May 2019
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Pakistanis between hope and despair as Modi reelected Indian PM

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday congratulated India’s Narendra Modi on the runaway election win of his Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and Modi responded by thanking his Pakistan counterpart.
Both leaders made conciliatory gestures but on the streets of Islamabad where Arab News spoke to common Pakistanis, the tone was not so welcoming.