The interior ministry informed the Supreme Court on Thursday that the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) had issued notices to 1,427 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and religious seminaries to submit details of their annual audit account, yearly reports, projects, etc.
On July 3 a three-judge bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Jawwad S Khawaja, had sought a comprehensive report on the ICT’s measures to regularise NGOs in accordance with the National Action Plan (NAP).
The court said that no meaningful steps had been taken either in respect of NAP’s item number six (choking funds for terrorists and terrorist organisations) or item number four (strengthening and activation of the National Counterterrorism Authority, or Nacta). The hearing will resume on July 22.
The federal government told the court that Rs100.34 million were allocated for Nacta in the budget for the fiscal 2015-16 and an additional Rs1.95 billion were sought for setting up a joint intelligence directorate.
Informing the bench that approximately 30,000 NGOs were operating across the country, the interior ministry said in its report that most of these organisations were doing a commendable job of delivering various services to the citizens in the areas where the state had been lacking.
However, added the report, keeping in view the concerns that NGOs or international NGOs (INGOs) might be involved in illegal or anti-state activities, a strict mechanism is required for monitoring and evaluating them.
A comprehensive database of NGOs and INGOs is in the process of being created, and the NGO managements being regulated by the provinces shall continue to be governed under the relevant laws, said the ministry. “However, a uniform database shall be made available on the interior ministry’s website for transparency and public information.”
The report said the ICT had also taken a number of steps to regulate the NGOs and INGOs in their jurisdiction and had also digitised data of more than 1,400 of them.
Moreover, audit reports of 35 NGOs have been handed over to the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan for scrutiny.
The interior ministry said a uniform template had been formulated and circulated to all provinces and the ICT for collating information on all the NGOs operating across the country, adding that all the INGOs had been given a deadline to get registered with the ministry.
The report said the prime minister had constituted a high-level committee to review the laws and regulations concerning registration and activities of INGOs, as they would apply anew through the online registration form.
However, it has been reported that after the premier’s decision to transfer the registration task from the Economic Affairs Division to the interior ministry, complete confusion over the transition has stalled the entire process of regulating INGOs.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 17th, 2015.