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

#MeToo moment in Hyderabad Urdu varsity? Two girl students seek action against authorities

Counterview Desk
Has the #MeToo movement reached Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MAANU)? It would seem so if a recent letter by newly-appointed chancellor Firoz Bakht Ahmed to MAANU vice-chancellor Dr Aslam Parvaiz is any indication. Seeking reinstatement of two girl victims of “sexual harassment and humiliation”, the letter specifically names head of the department of the Media Centre for Journalism, suspecting, the problem could be much deeper.
Text of the letter: It is a matter of utmost perturbation for me to receive the two representations from the girls studying in the MCJ (Media Center for Journalism) regarding their sexual and subsequently, mental and social harassment at the hands of Prof Ehtesham Ahmad Khan, the HOD, MCJ.
We do not know, how many girls have been exploited by him and preferred to be silent for saving their family’s honour; however, there are two brave girls who stood to the depraved advances and misuse by Prof Ehtesham and came up with written complai…

"Ineligible" funding of Sardar Statue in Gujarat: CAG tells Central PSUs, it's not a heritage CSR activity

By Our Representative
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, in its recent report on Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSE), has qualified public sector undertakings’ (PSUs') funding the 182-metre world’s highest Sardar Statue, currently being constructed in the Narmada river downstream of the Sardar Sarovar dam as an “ineligible” corporate social responsibility (CSR) activity.

29th "NRC-related" suicide in Assam, as Nirod Baran Das takes his life by hanging on a fan

By Our Representative
Reporting 29th case of National Register of Citizens (NRC)-driven suicide in Assam, one of India’s human rights campaign sites has said that, on October 20, tragedy struck Kharupetia town in Darrang district of Assam, when a retired school teacher and advocate Nirod Baran Das “took his life by hanging himself to a fan in his home.” The report adds, “The NRC process has so far claimed over two dozen such lives in the past four months alone.”

"Highly irregular" for PSUs to fund Sardar Statue under Corporate Social Responsibility

Counterview Desk
In a letter to I Srinivas, secretary, Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India, former secretary (economic affairs), Ministry of Finance, EAS Sarma, has raised questions on the funding of the Sardar Patel statue in South Gujarat by Central Public Sector Undertaking (CPSUs) relying on the Comptroller and Auditor General report (No 18/2018).

Murder of Tamil Nadu teenage Dalit girl: "Stoic silence" despite #MeToo movement

Counterview Desk
Brinelle D'souza, who is with the Centre for Health and Mental Health, School of Social Work, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, has prepared a strong statement to protest the brutal murder of 13-year-old Rajalakshmi. "Other than a few media reports, this gruesome killing has not caught national attention despite a very vibrant #MeToo campaign currently underway", regrets D'souza.

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

Preventing childhood deaths: India performs worse than Bangladesh, "equals" Pakistan

By Rajiv Shah
A just-released study, “The Pneumonia and Diarrhea Progress Report 2018”, prepared by the International Vaccine Access Centre (IVAC) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, has identified India among 15 other countries which are still far off the mark in achieving the targets of the Global Action Plan for the Prevention of Pneumonia and Diarrhea (GAPPD).

Bank account frozen, raid on Amnesty office: Govt of India "treating" human rights NGOs like criminal enterprises

By Abhirr VP*
Amnesty India’s bank accounts have been frozen by the Enforcement Directorate, effectively stopping its work. Amnesty India is thus the latest target of the government’s assault on civil society in the country. The accounts of Greenpeace India were frozen earlier this month.

60 ex-civil servants seek release of CAG reports on Rafale, demonetisation before 2019 polls

Counterview Desk
As many as 60 retired civil servants have asked President Ram Nath Kovind to expedite the release of Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) reports on demonetisation and the Rafale deal. The letter, signed mainly by former Indian Administrative Service, Indian Foreign Service and Indian Police Service officers, regrets that the status of the audit is "unclear”. According to them, “An impression is gaining ground that CAG is deliberately delaying its audit reports on demonetisation and Rafale deal till after the May 2019 elections so as not to embarrass the present government”.

Govt of India "tarnishing" NGO reputation, dossier leaked selectively: Amnesty

Counterview Desk
Amnesty International India has said that a deliberate attempt is being made to tarnish its reputation by leaking a dossier, supposedly made by investigating agencies, to media without giving it access to any such information. The high profile NGO’s claim follows a Times Now report about proceedings launched by investigative agencies, including Enforcement Directorate (ED) against the rights body for “violations” of rules pertaining to overseas donations.