The international media and global human rights organizations have a negative view of Pakistan primarily because of our abysmal human rights, censorship and clampdown on the press and on freedom of expression. As if things could not get any worse Pakistan’s recent crackdown on international aid agencies has led to a pushback from many Western countries. 18 international agencies “most of them working on human rights issues, were ordered to leave Pakistan over recent months after being refused registration.”
According to the wire service Reuters, diplomats of many Western countries including the European Union and the United States in a recent letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan “expressed “serious concerns” about this crackdown on aid groups. This letter was a follow up to a similar letter sent in September to the Interior Ministry.
The letter to the Prime Minister stated that “the groups did not get a proper explanation for why the government had ordered them out and there was a “lack of transparency” in the registration process.” The diplomats stated: “We are writing to express serious concerns with respect to recent developments. Restriction on civil society risks affecting Pakistan’s international reputation as a genuine partner on human developments and undermining confidence of the international donor and business community.”
Further, the letter said that the impact of expelling the groups would be “significant”, and would imperil some of development goals championed by Khan. “Restricting INGO operations will affect millions of poor Pakistanis. In 2017 alone, the INGO sector reached 34 million people with humanitarian relief and development assistance. This will mean thousands of Pakistanis employed by INGOs and local partners may lose their jobs.”
Pakistan, however, “has long viewed foreign-funded aid groups with suspicion and many members of the powerful military believe that Western countries often use such groups as a cover for spying.”