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November 6, 2018
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Khokhar criticises govt for INGOs closure

Top Story

November 6, 2018

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ISLAMABAD: Government’s policy of shutting down the international NGOs is a clear violation of Supreme Court verdict which should be revisited, Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar told The News.

He said the Supreme Court in Mustafa Impex case had clearly defined the Chief Executive of the country’s role for issuing any state policy or any legislation. “The government’s policy was drafted in 2015 but Cabinet’s approval was not obtained for this purpose. This is a sheer violation of SC verdict in Mustafa Implex Case,” Khokhar commented.

The Supreme Court in its verdict in Mustafa Implex case had directed that no prime minister can move any legislation, finance or fiscal bill or approve any budgetary or discretionary expenditures on his own without taking the cabinet into confidence first.

“The prime minister cannot take decisions by himself or by supplanting or ignoring the cabinet because the power to take decisions is vested with the federal government i.e. the cabinet and unilateral decisions taken by the prime minister would be a usurpation of power,” said the SC judgement.

“Being the Chairperson, I had convened a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Monday and gave our recommendations to the government. The Committee has recommended that the government should chalk out a new policy in the light of Supreme Court’s judgement and taking all the stake holders on board. This new proposed policy then should be placed before the Federal Cabinet for its approval,” said Khokhar.

“The existing policy itself has many flaws for example the government can issue eviction directives to anyone without citing any reasons. Federal Minister for Human Rights Dr. Shireen Mazari was also present in the committee meeting and she also agreed this is a flawed policy,” said Khokhar.

He said the representatives of international NGOs were also present in the meeting and they have complained that the government ordered them to leave the country but they were never provided any reasons of their eviction.

“Another flaw in the existing policy is that the ministry of interior’s decision cannot be challenged in any court. Now this in itself is totally unacceptable,” says Mr. Khokhar. He said many legal questions arise in the existing policy. The Secretary Interior was present in the meeting and he too has confirmed that the policy was not approved by the federal government. The government has assured that it will review the existing policy.

“The government claims that the INGOs do not comply with host country’s policies. Though there were genuine concerns about some INGOs but this is not the solution that government should shut down all the international NGOs. They are doing some exceptional work for the welfare of the people of Pakistan and spending millions of dollars in the country”, he said.

If any organization is not following the rules and procedure then it should be shut down but how can the government shut down all NGOs and that too without citing any reasons, said the committee chairperson.

It is pertinent to mention here that the government in November 2017 had directed 29 INGOs to leave the country within 60 days. In May 2018, the government issued directives to shut down the operations of 11 INGOs. In October 2018, almost 18 International NGOs have been directed to shut down their operations. The US and EU diplomats in Pakistan have already expressed their concerns on this decision.

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