Earlier this year, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar warned that “no Non-Government Organisation (NGO) working against the country’s national interest will be allowed to continue its work in Pakistan”. According to the Minister, “government cannot compromise on national interest”. This sounds very good, but it is interesting to note certain NGOs that have been allowed to continue working and ask what does this mean about how we define “national interest”. This is of particular interest when we observe how Jamaat-ud-Dawa is not only allowed to operate, but works hand in hand with Army.
NGOs have acquired a particularly bad reputation lately. In reality, NGOs serve an important role in society. First let us define what exactly an NGO is. NGO stands for ‘Non-Governmental Organisation‘:
A non-governmental organization (NGO) is any non-profit, voluntary citizens’ group which is organized on a local, national or international level. Task-oriented and driven by people with a common interest, NGOs perform a variety of service and humanitarian functions, bring citizen concerns to Governments, advocate and monitor policies and encourage political particpation through provision of information. Some are organized around specific issues, such as human rights, environment or health.
Save the Children is an NGO, and so is Edhi Foundation. Catholic Relief Services is an NGO, and so is Islamic Relief. Each of these organisations provides important humanitarian services to people who are not receiving these services from their own government.
Unfortunately, the same government that makes NGOs necessary by failing to provide necessary services is now putting NGOs under suspicion. Interior Minister Chaudry Nisar has said that some NGOs are backed by America, Israel, and India and they were “doing something which was against Pakistan’s interest”. The Interior Minister did not however bother to tell anyone which NGOs were working against the country neither did he tell what exactly they were doing. This was left to the wild imagination.
If it is true that there are any NGOs that are doing something which is against Pakistan’s interest, we should have every right to stop them from operating. My question is why the Interior Ministry is making vague claims about unnamed NGOs backed by America, Israel, and India but at the same time completely ignores NGOs backed by Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries that are openly doing something which is against Pakistan’s interest.