Ata time when Pakistan needs economic assistance and support from international governments and global public opinion, standing by global terrorist Hafiz Saeed and throwing out 18 INGOs from Pakistan is not the right way to either garner this support or project the right image for the country.
These 18 charities helped 11 million of Pakistan’s poorest citizens and yet they have been asked to leave the country. According to a story in The Independent, “Diplomats and charity bosses spoken to by The Independent described the ejection of the 18 international non-governmental organisations (INGOs) not as a knee-jerk decision, but as the culmination of years of hostility from the state towards such bodies. The charities were told at the end of September that they had exhausted all options to appeal their wrapping-up orders, and given 60 days to cease all operations and withdraw from Pakistan. All the INGOs, including the UK charities ActionAid, International Alert and Plan International, have been told they can “re-apply” for registration in Pakistan in six months’ time. But their prospects do not look good, given they have not been told the reasons for their expulsion – and therefore what they must rectify. They, like the Western governments that have been lobbying on their behalf for years without success, are left second-guessing the true reason they have been kicked out.”
While there are those who argue that “Pakistan’s hostility towards foreign charities with the 2011 US military operation that ended in the death of Osama bin Laden. Then, a fake vaccination programme run by the CIA was used to pinpoint the hideout of the 9/11 mastermind.”
Others state that “this all long started before [Bin Laden]”, said a senior official at the Pakistan Humanitarian Forum, an umbrella organisation of which most of the 18 organisations were members, who asked not to be named due to the sensitive nature of the subject. “The strand had already developed where NGOs are seen as foreign agents,” the official said. “It was led by [state-friendly] media, and anyone who questioned it was targeted with very broad criticism.”
According to The Independent, “Collectively, according to the Pakistan Humanitarian Forum, the 18 charities employed more than 1,100 people in country. “They employed local resources, working with local partners to forge a link with communities which the government cannot,” a spokesperson for the forum told The Independent. “From health to water sanitation to the construction of shelters, they were working on the welfare and development of hard-to-reach communities. Eleven million were benefiting every year from these organisations, and at the moment it seems there’s nothing in place to replace them.”