Pakistan orders international aid organizations to end operations

The government of Pakistan has instructed at least ten foreign-funded aid organizations to wrap up operations in the country within sixty days, Reuters reports.

The Pakistan Humanitarian Forum (PHF), which represents sixty-three international aid groups in the country, told Reuters that at the end of November the Ministry of Interior had responded to applications from ten of its members with “letters of rejection.” “Wind up operations/activities of above said INGO within sixty days,” the letters stated, without giving any reason for the directive.

Pakistan has toughened its stance toward domestic and international aid groups in recent years, and has accused some of using their work as a cover for espionage, Reuters reports.

In a statement, Open Society Foundations (OSF) said its office in Pakistan is seeking clarification from the government. While the organizations whose applications were rejected can lodge an appeal within ninety days, it is not clear how the process will be managed.

South Africa-based ActionAid also received a “letter of rejection” from the ministry. “During the lengthy INGO registration process,” ActionAid country director Iftikhar Nizami said in a statement, “we provided all the information and documents required and are confident we comply with all necessary rules and regulations.”

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