Several NGOs working against Pakistan’s national interest: Nisar

ISLAMABAD: A day after Pakistani authorities shut down international aid group Save the Children, Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan on Friday said that all international NGOs will have to respect Pakistani laws.

“We have proof that some NGOs were working on foreign agendas against Pakistan’s national interest for the past few years. There were several intelligence reports but no action was taken,” he told a press briefing here today.

Authorities sealed off the offices of Save the Children on Thursday, saying the charity was “working against the country”. Officials said the government ordered the NGO’s expatriate staff to be sent back to their countries within 15 days.

In 2012, the aid group was linked to Dr Shakeel Afridi who the CIA allegedly used to carry out a fake vaccination programme to locate Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden. The charity’s expat staff was forced to leave Pakistan after the accusations emerged.

Speaking to reporters today, Nisar said that “the NGO shut down the previous day was working against Pakistan’s national interests”.

“This cannot happen that you are registered for one thing and you are doing another. I am seriously considering that in Parliament I should open everything about what some specific NGOs (have been doing) for the past 10 to 12 years,” he said.

But he clarified that he was only referring to some specific aid groups.

“Those doing positive work according will be welcomed, supported and facilitated. But we will not allow negative work to be carried out under their umbrella, and a lot of this is against Pakistan’s national interests,” he said.

Nisar said that Pakistan had previously raised in the United Nations the issue of two NGOs working against Pakistan’s interests, but the country’s position was not supported by India, Israel and the USA.

“We contested their registration, their credentials. There are 15 members, and usually such matters are resolved with consensus. But this did not happen in this case. There was division. 12 countries supported Pakistan’s stance, but three countries supported the work of those NGOs. Those three countries were India, Israel and America.

“Several people told me not to take names, but why should I not? You will have to decide whether you want betterment for this country, you’re Pakistan’s friend, or that you want something else,” he said.

“Several NGOs were only registered for Islamabad. Some NGOs based in Islamabad started operating in Balochistan and FATA without permission and spreading false news. Several are operating without even being registered,” he said.

Nisar said that no compromise would be made on national interest, and that no pressure would be accepted in this regard. He said that the government would soon bring forward a policy to bring NGOs under a defined scope and charter.

Answering questions about death row prisoner Shafqat Hussain, he said that he was awarded the death penalty according to Pakistan’s law and constitution.

Nisar said that Shafqat was 23 years of age when he committed the murder, but he was portrayed as a child by circulating his childhood photo.

“We are investigating why Shafqat Hussain’s hanging was stopped. It not delayed on the orders of any court,” he said.