Pakistan needs to dictate decisions on INGOs: Janjua

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua has said that the scope of activities for international non-governmental organisations (INGOs) has been defined in accordance with the nation’s requirements.

Speaking to foreign envoys on the issue of INGOs registration, she said “activities that are responsive to Pakistan’s national development priorities” had been identified.

The sectors in which INGOs are being encouraged to work are poverty alleviation, health, vocational education and training, science and technology, environmental protection, disaster management, sports and culture.

The government had started fresh registration of INGOs in 2015 after announcement of the registration policy. A total of 141 INGOs had applied for registration under the new policy, out of which applications of 74 were approved, while those of 41 were rejected.

Since the scope of activities was also restricted, some of the organizations, particularly those working on issues like democracy, governance, rule of law and security opted to close down.

The policy was criticised by donor countries as restrictive and non-transparent.

Defending the policy, Ms Janjua said the decisions on cancellation of registration and closure were in full accord with the standards of due process and that the right of appeal and opportunities to discuss mutual concerns were provided to the INGOs.

She recalled that 74 INGOs were still operational in the country.

The foreign secretary, however, reaffirmed the government’s commitment to a “mutually beneficial framework on INGOs, underpinned by rule of law, transparency and responsive to nationally determined development priorities”.

She further noted that the policy framework was “guided by Pakistan’s national context, circumstances, needs and priorities”.

It was agreed that the envoys of donor countries would remain engaged with the government for exploring options for addressing concerns of the INGO sector.

Donor countries have insisted that the new policy would affect Pakistan’s image as “a partner on human development”. They have, therefore, been demanding a “more cooperative and nuanced arrangement on INGOs”.