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The West wants Imran Khan to explain the crackdown on International NGOs

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News Analysis |

The United States of America and several European states are not happy with the recent crackdown against some of the International non-governmental organizations which has intensified since PTI assumed office. In recent days as many as 17 INGOs and their national subsidiaries have been ordered to halt their operations with immediate effect and many of the employees were even asked to leave the country.

A letter which was signed by the envoys of United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, Norway, and Switzerland was directed to the PM office expressing concerns over the “vague scrutiny process” and demanded an explanation for these actions.

National security will always be of primary concern to policymakers, but the fact; that 30% of the Pakistani population lives below the poverty line cannot be ignored.

“Restriction on civil society risks affecting Pakistan’s international reputation as a genuine partner on human developments and undermining the confidence of the international donor and business community,” the letter said.

Historically, aid networks have been used as a cover to undertake clandestine activities. Pakistan is facing a multifaceted, hybrid warfare where the distinction between a friend and foe is oblique. There has been multiple instances in past, where some of the renowned and large-scale INGOS like ‘Save the children’ was asked to wrap up its operation in Pakistan.

Read more: Dirty role of International NGOs in Pakistan – Asif Haroon Raja

Pakistan’s threat spectrum is multi-layered; its enemies operates inside its border, this make it rather difficult for security forces to combat them. Therefore, Pakistan needs to have all the resources in place to check for malicious organizations who are working against the interest of the state.

Pakistani authorities are highly skeptical of international NGO’s, especially after 2011 Abbottabad fiasco. Pakistani intelligence accused ‘Save the children’ for being in cahoots with CIA, which they obviously deny. National security will always be of primary concern to policymakers, but the fact; that 30% of the Pakistani population lives below the poverty line cannot be ignored.

In the worst case scenario, hardball tactics will scare the rest of NGO’s which can lead to eventual closure of entire International Aid set up.

International aid and NGOs help the government implement the social policy; due to the expertise and resources which these organizations bring to the table, the government is able to reach the marginalized faction of the community without having to deploy additional resources for that purpose. The implications of such crackdown will be counterproductive on growth and human development.

The Western envoys, in their letter to the Prime Minister, cautioned that impact of expelling these groups would be “significant”. They also warned that it would imperil some of the development goals championed by Khan; who was elected in July on a populist platform to help the poor.

Read more: Pakistan orders ActionAid to leave: NGO

“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.”

These policies have an adverse impact on the trajectory of welfare setup in this country. In the worst case scenario, hardball tactics will scare the rest of NGO’s which can lead to an eventual closure of entire International Aid set up.

Instead of being reactive to certain rogue elements within the INGO’s fraternity, a proactive approach which involves thorough background checks and scrutiny at the time permitting these bodies to work in the country would be much more suitable.

Read more: Asia Bibi case: Opportunist Khadim Rizvi threatens judiciary, NGOs and the…

Given the poor economic condition of Pakistan, whatever policy government employees need to be very carefully calculated and deliberated so that there are no counter-productive outcomes in the long run.

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