Answers demanded: NGO closure causes a stir in Senate

Senate proceedings discuss protests against development projects


Qamar Zaman July 08, 2015
Senate proceedings discuss protests against development projects. PHOTO: fb.com/pages/USMAN-KHAN-KAKAR

ISLAMABAD:


A senator from Balochistan on Tuesday demanded briefing over government’s decision to ban Non-Governmental Organizations [NGOs]. Answers were sought over the closure of the Save the Children’s operations in the province.


“Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan should brief us about the decision [ban on NGOs]. We agree that NGOs working against the country’s interest should not be allowed. However there should not be discrimination in our province,” said Senator Muhammad Usman Khan Kakar of Pashtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party [PMAP].

Kakar complained against the interior minister, saying “he [Chaudhry Nisar] considers himself above this house, therefore, does not attend its proceedings.” He said that Save the Children had saved the lives of thousands of children and had offered jobs in Balochistan but its operations have been banned.

He said that the interior minister discourages donor agencies from visiting Quetta citing volatile law and order situation which is not right. “We have no other option but to approach donor agencies when you [federal government] do not give us funds,” he added.

Meanwhile, leader of the opposition Aitzaz Ahsan of the PPP warned the government of potential protests. An agitation was expected against plans to convert 1,400 acres of National Agriculture Research Council [NARC] land into a housing society. He said that an MP from the ruling party was reportedly behind the move and said Islamabad’s people would react against any such scheme.

Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani said that the issue was part of Wednesday’s agenda and the government would submit its point of view over the issue.  Earlier, the government informed the senate that a committee had been constituted [under Habib Athar] to review the issues of contractual employees.

Sitara Ayaz of ANP had invited attention of Defence Minister regarding non-regularisation of services of about 1,237 teachers who have been serving on temporary basis for the last 20 years.

Earlier during the question hour Farhatullah Babar questioned whether banned militant outfits were allowed to resurrect under a different name or as charity organisation. In response the interior ministry said that any organization proscribed under Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 is prohibited from any activities including charity work under different names.

He said that Jaish-e-Mohammad had six charity organizations. This included Khuddamul Islam [banned], Jamiatul Furqan [banned], Al-Akhtar Trust [UNSCR listed], Al-Rashid Trust [UNSCR listed], Al-Rehmat Trust [US listed] Al-Afnaal Trust [US listed]. Similarly, Lashkar-e-Taiba had changed name to Jamaatud Dawa [UNSCR listed] and Falah-e-Insaniyat [UNSCR listed].

UNSCR has listed Jamaatud Dawa as an alias of Lashkar-e-Taiba. A reply by the Interior ministry to the senate stated that “Supporting evidence has not been shared with Pakistan to establish such connections. Currently the JuD is placed under observation in SRO dated 15 November 2003 and mentioned in all provinces for any suspect activity. Between 2008 and 2010 the offices were closed, however relief was given by the LHC. Presently, the JuD is engaged in charity and social work, operating hospitals, clinics, schools, ambulance service and religious institutions, the reply added.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 8th, 2015. 

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