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
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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.


I could have done a lot more for Pakistan but was prevented by Musharraf, says Dr. A.Q. Khan

Updated 24 min 36 sec ago
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I could have done a lot more for Pakistan but was prevented by Musharraf, says Dr. A.Q. Khan

  • India and Pakistan could live together in peace and harmony 'if the Kashmir problem is solved amicably,' says Pakistan's top nuclear scientist
  • The safety and security system put in place by Pakistan’s Strategic Plans Division is 'failsafe'

DUBAI: “All the Western countries are against any Muslim country having a nuclear capacity,” said Pakistan’s former nuclear scientist — popularly known as the ‘father’ of Pakistan’s atomic bomb — in an exclusive interview with Arab News.
“Never do you hear a word said about Israel’s nuclear program,” he said.
International community keeps raising concerns over the safety of the country’s nuclear arsenal.
“The safety and security system which has been put in place by the SPD (Strategic Plans Division) is failsafe,” said Dr. Khan, in a reply to questions sent to him by email.
Dr. Khan stressed that Pakistan has “no evil designs against any country” and that the country’s nukes are purely for “self-defense” and deterrence, adding that in case of an aggression “there will be no concessions from Pakistan.”
Advocating Pakistan’s nuclear ambition, Dr. Khan said, “It has definitely protected Pakistan, not only from an aggressive India, but also from (foreign) adventurists.”
“We all know what happened to non-nuclear Pakistan in 1971. Since the early 1980s the world was aware that we had a nuclear program and neither India nor any other country has dared to touch us ... I gave Pakistan the capability of hitting back if it was attacked making any misadventure on the part of India fatal for both countries,” he said.
The two countries could live together in peace and harmony “if the Kashmir problem is solved amicably,” he said.
As Pakistan heads toward the general election next month (July 25), Dr. Khan said that he has no political plans.
Dr. Khan dissolved his political party, Tahreek-e-Tahaffuz-e-Pakistan (Movement for the Protection of Pakistan), after the 2013 election. “The formation of that party was at the insistence of many people and I gave them the opportunity to try. However, there were no good results.”
“Politics in Pakistan requires rolling banknotes,” he said.
On Wednesday, the Election Commission of Pakistan made public the assets of main electoral candidates in the 2018 elections, figures that have shown rich political leaders living lavish lifestyle.
Pakistan problems are caused by the “corrupt system and political inabilities” where leaders had most of their wealth stashed abroad and “little interest in safeguarding national interests,” Dr. Khan said.
“See how Gen. Musharraf, a military dictator, sold this country’s sovereignty to the West at a simple phone call from the US. For that, we have paid, and are still paying, a very heavy price.”
Dr. Khan alleged that he was sacked by Musharraf on a US whim at a time when he could have done much more for Pakistan.
“… Read what Chaudhry Shujaat Husain has said about that episode in his autobiography.” He said Musharraf “neutralized” him (Dr. A.Q. Khan) because President Bush wanted him to do so. “The country suffered because of it.”
In January 2004, Dr. Khan was summoned by the government for a debriefing on his alleged role in nuclear weapons technology proliferation after the US shared evidence with Pakistan. He confessed to the charges a month later and was put under official house arrest. He was released as a free man on Feb. 6, 2009, by the Islamabad High Court (IHC).
“I could have done a lot more for Pakistan in the years after my retirement but was prevented from doing so by him (Musharraf). Now he himself is in disgrace while the nation still honors me,” said the 83-year old former nuclear physicist, recalling his sacking.
Dr. Khan, who visited North Korea before under a missile program mission by Pakistan, believes that the recent Trump-Kim summit in Singapore will not definitely lead to Pyongyang’s denuclearization. “North Koreans are very pragmatic,” he said.
“As long as US troops are in Japan and South Korea, North Korea will not freeze or abandon its nuclear program.”
Both the US and North Korea are trying to get the best out of the situation — President Trump looking for a Nobel Prize for Peace and the North Korean President recognition as a world leader, he said.