Islamabad expels multiple foreign aid groups

A policeman stands guard outside the office of an NGO in Islamabad. (File photo/AFP)
Updated 16 December 2017
0

Islamabad expels multiple foreign aid groups

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has ordered 23 international non-governmental organizations (INGOs), including ActionAid, Plan International and Marie Stopes, to leave the country by the end of January, risking bilateral trade and relations with the host countries of the foreign-aid groups.
The Ministry of Interior issued letters to the INGOs directing them to close their operations and leave Pakistan within 60 days as their applications for registration had been rejected.
“Action against these INGOs has been taken based on intelligence reports,” a senior Interior Ministry official told Arab News.
He revealed that majority of the foreign aid groups that have been directed to close their operations in Pakistan were working in restive parts of the country, including the provinces of Baluchistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).
“Our intelligence agencies have been closely watching the operations of these INGOs and suspected some of them of being involved in inciting unrest in the local population in restive areas of the country in the name of human rights,” the official said.
In 2015, Pakistan directed all foreign aid groups working in the country to re-register with the Interior Ministry by submitting certain documents including annual financial audits and their funding sources.
The government has so far permitted 73 INGOs to work in Pakistan and is scrutinizing the documents of another 20 to ascertain whether they will be allowed to work in the country.
A group of foreign missions in Pakistan submitted a letter to the ministry on June 29 this year expressing their concern over the INGO registration process and the rejection of applications from some of the aid groups.
“We are concerned that the registration process is having a negative impact on the delivery of humanitarian and development assistance,” the letter, jointly written by heads of foreign missions including those of Australia, Canada, the EU, Germany, Norway, Sweden and the UK, stated.
The majority of the INGOs that have been permitted to work in Pakistan come from the US, Germany, Switzerland, the UK, France and Norway.
Mohammad Tahseen, convener of the Pakistan Civil Society Forum, told Arab News that it is illegal and unethical to expel INGOs providing services related to education, health, poverty reduction, climate change and agriculture to marginalized segments of society in Pakistan.
“The expulsion of foreign-aid groups will send a negative image of Pakistan to the international community,” he said. “It will also have a negative impact on Pakistan’s bilateral trade and relations with the host countries of the INGOs.”
Tahseen said that if the government had evidence of any wrongdoing by these INGOs, it should have been presented at a proper legal forum before the expulsion orders were issued.
He said the expulsion of INGOs from Pakistan would only add to the rampant unemployment and sufferings of the poor, especially in far-flung areas of the country where the government has failed to provide basic facilities including education and health care.
Pakistan Humanitarian Forum, which represents 62 international INGOs, said in a report that it spent $285 million on various humanitarian and development works, directly benefiting some 29 million people across Pakistan, in 2016. It also claims to have employed over 5,000 local staff.
Pakistan stepped up its monitoring of foreign-aid groups after the killing of Osama Bin Laden in 2011 by a US Navy Seals team in Abbottabad, a garrison city in the KP province.
The country’s intelligence agencies accused Save the Children, an INGO, of being complicit in helping the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to find the Al-Qaeda kingpin in Pakistan — a charge the charity denies. In 2015, Pakistan also expelled the Norwegian Refugee Council and forced a temporary shutdown of Save the Children in the country, while Medecins Sans Frontieres was expelled from the FATA in September 2017.


Moon says Kim agreed to allow nuke inspections

In this image made from video provided by Korea Broadcasting System (KBS), South Korean President Moon Jae-in, left, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un pose after signing documents in Pyongyang, North Korea Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018. (AP)
Updated 19 September 2018
0

Moon says Kim agreed to allow nuke inspections

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in have started their second day of summit talks in Pyongyang over the nuclear standoff and other inter-Korean issues
  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has greeted South Korean President Moon Jae-in upon his arrival in Pyongyang for their third summit this year to improve ties and help resolve the nuclear standoff

SEOUL: North Korea has agreed to “permanently” abolish its key missile facilities in the presence of foreign experts, and is willing to close its main nuclear complex if the United States takes reciprocal action, South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in said on Wednesday.
Speaking at a joint news conference following their summit talks in Pyongyang, Moon and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said they agreed to turn the Korean peninsula into a “land of peace without nuclear weapons and nuclear threats.”
Kim said he will visit Seoul in the near future, in what would be the first-ever visit to the South’s capital by a North Korean leader.
The latest summit will be a litmus test for stalled negotiations on the North’s nuclear program between Pyongyang and Washington, and for another meeting Kim recently proposed to US President Donald Trump following their historic encounter in June in Singapore.
Moon was seeking to engineer a proposal that combines a framework for the North’s denuclearization and a joint declaration ending the 1950-53 Korean War.
Kim pledged to work toward the “complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula” during his first encounter with Moon, and at his summit with Trump in June.
But discussions over how to implement the vague commitments have since faltered, with Washington demanding concrete action toward denuclearization by North Korea before agreeing to a key goal of Pyongyang — declaring an end to the war.
North Korea has given no indication it is willing to give up its nuclear arsenal unilaterally and is seeking relief from crippling international sanctions.
North Korea has offered to stop nuclear and missile tests but did not allowed international inspections for a dismantlemnt of its only known nuclear site in May, drawing criticism that its action could not be verified and could be easily reversed.

ART TOUR
US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told a news briefing on Tuesday that Washington hoped the latest inter-Korean summit would bring about “meaningful, verifiable steps toward the denuclearization of North Korea” and called it a “historic opportunity” for Kim to follow through on commitments he made with Trump.
Later on Wednesday, Moon’s delegation will tour the Mansudae Art Studio, the North’s largest producer of art where state artists build statues and produce propaganda at a sprawling complex in Pyongyang.
The institution was sanctioned by the UN Security Council last year as part of global efforts to rein in Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs by drying up its revenue sources.
Moon is also scheduled to watch the North’s signature “Brilliant Fatherland” Mass Game which was reintroduced this year following a five-year hiatus, with a formation of glowing drones, lasers and stadium-sized gymnastics shows designed to glorify the country.
The United States is pressing countries to strictly observe international sanctions, which will likely be a key theme when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo hosts a Security Council meeting on North Korea on Sept. 27 on the sidelines of the annual UN General Assembly.

“NEW ERA“
This week’s summit is intended to craft concrete steps to implement the Panmunjom Declaration, named after the border village where they first met, Seoul officials said.
The two Koreas also adopted a separate military accord aimed at preventing armed clashes between the old foes, which are technically still at war because the Korean War ended with a truce, not a peace treaty.
The neighbors have already agreed to withdraw some guard posts and equipment, in a bid to transform the world’s most heavily fortified border into a no-weapons area.
Pyongyang says it has destroyed its main nuclear and missile engine test site, and has halted atomic and ballistic missile tests, but US officials and analysts believe it is continuing to work on its weapons plans clandestinely.
South Korea is pinning high hopes on Kim’s remarks to Moon’s special envoys earlier this month that he wanted to achieve denuclearization within Trump’s first term in office ending in early 2021. Kim at the same time also stressed Washington must reciprocate his initial “goodwill” gestures.
“While Moon has expressed his desire to agree on a concrete plan on denuclearization, we believe that the two nations still differ on this concept,” said Anwita Basu, an analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit.
In previous, failed talks, North Korea has said it could consider giving up its nuclear program if the United States provided security guarantees by removing troops from South Korea and withdrawing its so-called nuclear umbrella of deterrence from the South and Japan.
US officials involved in the latest negotiations have said North Korea has refused to even start discussions about defining denuclearization. (Reporting by Hyonhee Shin, Joyce Lee and Soyoung Kim; additional reporting by David Brunnstrom in Washington; Editing by Soyoung Kim and Lincoln Feast.)