Skip to main content

Pakistan "follows" Modi government footsteps, cracks down on NGOs, closes down Save the Children office

The sealed Save the Children office 
By Our Representative
The Narendra Modi government has found "support" for its crackdown on civil society groups from unexpected quarters: Pakistan. In a move that should "please" the Government of India seeking to  restrict NGO activities, the Islamabad authorities have charged well-known international child rights group Save the Children for carrying out "espionage activities", sealing its office.
"The crackdown comes at a time of constricting freedoms of expression and movement in Pakistan, and drew an unusually public rebuke from the State Department, whose spokesman, John Kirby, described Save the Children as a group that had 'long operated with transparency' in Pakistan", comments influential US daily New York Times (NYT) in a report from Islamabad.
The NYT report says, ever since 2011 Save the Children faced accusations that "a senior official with the group had helped the CIA recruit a Pakistani doctor who became involved in the hunt for Osama bin Laden." NYT quotes interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan as saying, “We will support those NGOs who are doing a good job. But we cannot allow anti-state NGOs."
While Save the Children office in Pakistan has been sealed down, NYT says, iMMAP, Washington-based data-analysis organization that works with aid groups, also simultaneously faced a similar fate after "Pakistani officials accused the group of mapping military installations."
Earlier, in 2014, the government closed the Norwegian Refugee Council amid official accusations that its staff had been collecting data from the tribal regions in an "unauthorized way", the daily says in a report titled "Pakistan Warns Aid Groups to Follow Unspecified Rules."
"Analysts warned that while military and intelligence agencies sought to uncover any Western espionage in the guise of relief work, in expelling Save the Children they also sought to signal that organizations working independently would not be tolerated", says NYT, quoting editor of a well-known Pakistani daily "Dawn" Cyril Almeida as saying, “The state is signaling that security comes before public welfare.” said , an editor at Dawn newspaper.
Saying that "an old paranoia is adjusting to new perceived threats”, NYT points to how Pakisani "the authorities have quietly attempted to nudge other foreigners out of the country in recent months, usually by refusing to extend visas." Already, it says, "a dozen Western organizations have been put under scrutiny."
The daily qoutes Asad Munir, a retired army brigadier and former officer with the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, the powerful military spy agency, saying that the ban on Save the Children "reflected a deeply ingrained mind-set that Western aid groups were working against Pakistani culture or, since the Bin Laden raid, engaged in espionage."
"Several analysts said that the restrictions were part of a broader effort, orchestrated by the military, to curb debate over human rights abuses in sensitive areas like Baluchistan, the southern province where the army has been accused of widespread torture and extrajudicial executions", NYT underlines.

Comments

TRENDING

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam*
RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

RSS supremo Deoras 'supported' Emergency, but Indira, Sanjay Gandhi 'didn't respond'

By Shamsul Islam*
National Emergency was imposed on the country by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on June 25-26, 1975, and it lasted for 19 months. This period is considered as ''dark times' for Indian democratic polity. Indira Gandhi claimed that due to Jaiprakash Narayan's call to the armed forces to disobey the 'illegal' orders of Congress rulers had created a situation of anarchy and there was danger to the existence of Indian Republic so there was no alternative but to impose Emergency under article 352 of the Constitution.

Letter to friends, mentors: Coming together of class, communal, corona viruses 'scary'

By Prof (Dr) Mansee Bal Bhargava*
COVID greetings from Ahmedabad to dear mentors and friends from around the world…
I hope you are keeping well and taking care of yourself besides caring for the people around you. I’m writing to learn how is the science and the society coping with the prevention and cure of the pandemic. I’m also writing to share the state of the corona virus that is further complicated with the long-standing class and communal viruses.

Hurried nod to Western Ghat projects: 16 lakh Goans' water security 'jeopardised'

Counterview Desk
Taking strong exception to "virtual clearances" to eco-sensitive projects in the Western Ghats, the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) in a statement has said urged for a review of the four-lane highway, 400 KV transmission line and double tracking of the railway line through the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary and Mollem National Park in Goa.

Disturbing signal? Reliance 'shifting focus' away from Indian petrochemical sector

By NS Venkataraman*
Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), a large Indian company, has expanded and grown in a spectacular manner during the last few decades, like of which no industrial group in India has performed before. RIL is now involved in multi various activities relating to petroleum refineries, petrochemicals, oil and gas exploration, coal bed methane, life sciences, retail business, communication network, (Jio platform) media/entertainment etc.

Oxfam on WB project: ICT 'ineffective', privatised learning to worsen gender divide

By Rajiv Shah 
A top multinational NGO, with presence in several developed and developing countries, has taken strong exception to the World Bank part-funding Strengthening Teaching-Learning and Results for States (STARS) project in six Indian states – Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Odisha – for its emphasis on information and communication technology (ICT)-enabled approaches for teacher development, student assessment and digital platform for early childhood education.

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

By Our Representative
Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book, "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Cruel legacy of Green Revolution? Covid-19 underscores 'risky, fragile' food system

By Moin Qazi*  The Covid-19 crisis has highlighted the risks of an unhealthy diet and the extreme fragility of food systems. The economic reconstruction that will follow the pandemic is the perfect opportunity to provide better nutrition and health to all. The pandemic should spur us to redefine how we feed ourselves, and agricultural research can play a vital role in making our food systems more sustainable and resilient.

Case for nationalising India's healthcare system amidst 'strong' private control

Counterview Desk
A draft discussion note, prepared by Dr Maya Valecha, a Gujarat-based gynecologist and activist, sent to the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) as also a large number of activists, academics and professionals as an email alert, is all set to create a flutter among policy experts for its strong insistence on nationalizing India’s healthcare system.