Pakistan kicks out 18 charities after rejecting final appeal
“Pakistan is kicking out 18 international charities after rejecting their final appeal to stay in the country, a move that an aid group spokesman said Thursday would affect millions of desperately poor Pakistanis and lead to tens of millions of aid dollars lost. The majority of the shuttered aid groups are U.S.-based, while the rest are from Britain and the European Union, according to a government list seen by The Associated Press. Another 20 groups are at risk of also being expelled after authorities a few months ago singled out some 38 international aid groups for closure, without any explanation.
The development is the latest in a systematic crackdown on international organizations in Pakistan, with authorities using every bureaucratic excuse, such as discrepancies in visa and registration documentation, to target the organizations. There is also a perception in Islamabad that the United States and European countries have secretly brought spies into Pakistan under the guise of aid workers. On Thursday, Pakistan’s Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari said on Twitter the 18 groups that were asked to leave had spread disinformation. ‘They must leave. They need to work within their stated intent which these 18 didn’t do,’ she said. Umair Hasan, spokesman for the Pakistan Humanitarian Foundation — an umbrella representing 15 of the charities — said those charities alone help 11 million poor Pakistanis and contribute more than $130 million in assistance. ‘No organization has been given a clear reason for the denial of its registration renewal applications,’ Hasan said.”