US-Pakistan spy wars: Foreign aid workers face increased scrutiny

Published: July 27, 2011
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Stringent visa regulations and restrictions on military movement affecting aid delivery to flood hit areas: Guardian.

Stringent visa regulations and restrictions on military movement affecting aid delivery to flood hit areas: Guardian.

ISLAMABAD: 

The escalating spy war between Pakistan and the United States has curtailed the work of charities battling to assist survivors from the country’s epic flood last year.

A report appearing in the Guardian said that stringent visa regulations and restrictions on movement by the military are causing long delays, increasing costs and affecting the delivery of aid to areas hit by floods and the conflict with the Taliban.

The newspaper cited the case of a US-based Catholic Relief Services worker who was brought to court for visa irregularities, imprisoned for nine days and deported. British agencies say their staff have fallen under the microscope of Pakistani intelligence services with officials visiting field offices and introducing restrictions on travel. Aid workers in Sukkur started to complain of regular visits from intelligence officers and police. In Jacobabad, agencies were told that visiting certain areas now required a “no objection certificate” – an official letter of permission.

“The authorities have started paying more attention to who is in the country and what they are doing,” said Michael O’Brien of the Red Cross.

Pakistani embassies abroad have also started to restrict access. “It’s making things extremely difficult,” said Paul Healy of Trocaire, an Irish aid agency. “Before, we could get a visa for a technical expert in one week; now it takes 10.”

The greatest impact is in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Aid workers now require permission to visit previously open areas, such as Kohistan and Shangla near the Swat Valley.

One European aid manager said he had been unable to send staff to his rural project for more than a month because of the restrictions. “We’re being bundled in with diplomats and other foreign-service nationals. They need to be educated about who we are – and that is not CIA agents,” he said.

The NDMA said it was issuing travel permits on a priority basis. “We are committed to facilitate aid workers in their pursuit of assisting affected communities,” said spokesman Brigadier Sajid Naeem. (With input from the news desk)

Published in The Express Tribune, July 27th,  2011.

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Reader Comments (13)

  • Amir
    Jul 27, 2011 - 9:47AM

    Very good. Keep it up

    Recommend

  • Khadim
    Jul 27, 2011 - 12:14PM

    Well Done keep it up… keep these East India company with the new name NGO away from our land… the peace will come automatically… these are agents….

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  • Irtiza
    Jul 27, 2011 - 12:28PM

    Excellent. Finally somebody realizes the need to do this. If other countries restrict access to Pakistani’s movements, or don’t issue visas, we should be paying back in kind.

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  • Maher
    Jul 27, 2011 - 2:02PM

    Good move. Pakistani embassies must issues visas for cities and not to travel the whole country. If they have work in Sindh they must be restricted to particular areas of Sindh only. Just like Visa to travel India

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  • Jul 27, 2011 - 2:15PM

    Great to know! At last, our security agencies have woken up from deep slumber!

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  • Jul 27, 2011 - 2:33PM

    This was required…I mean with our our natural disaster filled recent past (’05 Earthquake, ’10 Floods)…CIA doesn’t need to be Einstein to figure out that its agents can infiltrate Pakistan posing as aid workers…Well done…

    Recommend

  • Jul 27, 2011 - 8:23PM

    Every comment before mine is supporting and praising the restrictions on the foreign aid workers. VIVA! GOP now you are seeing the light of the day. We dont need the snoopy agents and workers. Yes sir! We don’t need them.
    The GOP sleuths including the President, Prime Minister and the whole lot that is ruling the system should be made to serve the aid to the needy for a change. They hardly go to the affected areas. Nevertheless, we neither wont CIA agents nor do we need foreign aid workers. We the citizens will give them as before.
    Thank you for coming here with your kind assistance. Your generosity will be better appreciated by jobless Americans, lessen your outstanding debt of USD. 14.3 trillion and help in easing the balance of payments deficit. Moreover, it will give some breathing space to your embattled US President because John Boehmer is giving him a tough time. Bi.

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  • hassan
    Jul 27, 2011 - 8:30PM

    US may be our largest donor, but that does not mean that we should miss any opportunity to harass them or embarrass them. Let’s try to put US in its place.

    We will show them who is the boss in this relationship !

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  • Muhammad Ali
    Jul 28, 2011 - 12:51AM

    Well Done Pakistan :))) PAKISTAN Forces Pls don’t let us down again like before.

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  • Discostu
    Jul 28, 2011 - 3:12AM

    Have all of you gone mad? After the earthquake and the floods, the majority of the aid work done was performed by foreign aid agencies. Just because they are from another country doesn’t mean they are evil. Educate yourself before you write, because your ignorance is part of the problem this country faces. We do not have the capacity to respond to natural disasters and we need forietn assistance. It’s very easy to say we can solve the problem when we sit in our homes that have not been washed away by the floods. I am ashamed that I belong to the same country as the people who have commented before me. It’s very easy to make a principled stand when it doesn’t effect you.

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  • pakpinoy
    Jul 28, 2011 - 4:12AM

    Yes, well done. My company laid off almost 30 Pakistanis and canceled hundreds of thousands of dollars in investment due to these practices. Very well done.

    There are very few, if any, foreigners who will put up with the crap that the GOP is offering them now.

    The numbers speak for themselves: 5.5 billion in foreign direct investment in 2008, 3.5 billion in 2009, 2.2 billion in 2010 and 1.5 billion in 2011. 2012 might see it dip under 1 billion dollars.

    Pakistan is not China that it can afford to punish the very few who are trying to do legitimate business for the sake of ghairat and pride and to “show up” America.

    The comments above sound like children on a playground. Good riddance. My company is shifting its investment to India, the Philippines and yes, Afghanistan, where we are welcome with open arms and the people appreciate the investment and the jobs created!

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  • H
    Jul 28, 2011 - 2:59PM

    I’m not sure who was writing the comments above. While we want to ensure we know who is entering the country, we shouldn’t be creating unnecessary hurdles for genuine aid workers and potential investors in the country. International NGOs are responsible for large amounts of relief work, and as a Pakistani I am thankful to them. Of course they have to visit rural areas, since those were the places worst affected.

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  • Chengez K
    Jul 31, 2011 - 7:14PM

    What would have happened to Pakistan if ISI ran a fake health program
    for innocent children in U.S or in U.K…….THe world have gone to Security council & declared Pakistan a potential mass murder!!!!

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