Scores of people in the flood hit areas took out a demonstration on Monday in protest of the government’s decision to close down a non-government organisation (NGO).
The protesters demanded extension of permission for a French aid agency working for technical cooperation and development, in the district.
More than 150 residents of Jhakar Imam, Ghausabad, Pati Chajhu and Patti Kaheri areas; including women and children; held placards with slogans in support of the NGO. They gathered near the NGO office on Khayaban-i- Sarwar and remained there for more than four hours.
The protesters demanded the NGO continue its rehabilitation projects, initiated in 2010.
An NGO worker said that 200 people were employed at the NGO. “Ending the project would mean, 200 more unemployed people,” he said.
He said that NGO had provided 1,367 one-room shelters, 446 public toilets, 837 hand pumps, irrigation channels on a 35 kilometres stretch and non-food items to the affected people.
Rasheeda Mai, a protester, told The Express Tribune that the NGO had provided the displaced families with shelter and basic household items. Another protester, Khuda Bakhsh, said the people still direly needed the NGO’s support.
Tayyab Farooq, the NGO focal person, told The Tribune that the government of Pakistan in 2011 had issued instruction to the district coordination officer (DCO) to ensure that NGO should wrap up all its projects in the district.
He said DCO Ahmed Shahid had then forward the instruction to them and given them till March 31 to close down.
An official at the DCO’s office said that the decision had been in view of the sensitivity of the region. “The government has restricted the entry of foreigners in the Dera Ghazi Khan district.
He said last year the government had issued notices barring all sorts of relief activities by foreign NGOs in sensitive regions of the country.
Save The Children, UN Habitat and Qatar Charity are among the foreign NGOs that closed down their projects in the district in 2011.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 7th, 2012.