Pakistan has asked nearly a dozen foreign aid groups to wrap up their activities in the country for failing to “re-register” under a regulation promulgated two years ago, officials said today. Pakistan had in 2015 introduced a new, tough registration criterion for international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) after allegations of “anti-state” activities surfaced against some foreign aid workers. Several foreign NGOs have since re-registered but some of them failed to fulfil the standards set by the government, according to an official of the Interior Ministry. “We have asked those (which failed to re-register) to wrap up operation within 60 days after losing bid to re- register,” the official said on condition of anonymity. The official refused to identify the foreign aid groups or give the exact number of NGOs but said that nearly a dozen of them could be hit by the decision. Media reports suggested that about 20 foreign aid groups, including Open Society Foundation of American billionaire George Soros and Action Aid, have been asked to leave.
The problem surfaced in 2015 when ‘Save the Children’ was asked to leave the county for alleged “anti-state” activities, a charge strongly refuted by the group. The story of Pakistan’s “mistrust” towards foreign NGOs goes back to 2011 when Dr. Shakil Afridi, who helped America’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) track down Osama bin Laden, was arrested for carrying out a fake vaccination campaign. Afridi was arrested soon after Laden’s killing in the famous Abbottabad compound raid by US Navy Seals in May 2011. He was later sentenced to jail for alleged links with militants and is still battling against his conviction.