The government of Pakistan has expelled the evangelical relief charity World Vision, Catholic Relief Services and 16 other foreign aid groups and NGOs. The nation’s top human rights official has claimed that they all engaged in spreading disinformation.
The organizations, most of which are U.S.-based with some based in Europe, have halted their operations in the South Asian nation after their appeals of the government’s decision to deny re-registration was turned down.
Pakistan Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari claimed on Twitter that the groups were denied re-registration because they spread “disinfo” and were not working within “their stated intent.” The news came as the government ordered at least 20 aid groups to close down in December 2017 because of security concerns.
Plan International, a group that advocates for children rights worldwide and serves 1.6 million children across Pakistan, received a letter on Oct. 2 from the Pakistani government, telling the group that the Ministry of Interior was giving it 60 days to cease operations and leave the country.
According to a statement shared with The Christian Post, the Oct. 2 letter was responding to the group’s appeal of the December 2017 decision to decline its re-registration. No reason was given for the rejection.
“We are deeply saddened by the government decision and extremely concerned about the impact it will have on communities, particularly hundreds of thousands of children, the organization is currently supporting, as well as our own staff – who are all Pakistani nationals,” Plan International said.
World Vision, a 68-year-old evangelical aid charity that provides humanitarian assistance, development aid and advocacy to those in need across the globe, completely halted its operations in Pakistan by Nov. 30 and complied with its 60-day deadline.
According to a statement provided to CP, World Vision had 31 staff members in Pakistan and was working on two supporting grants, one of which came from the Canadian government to “strengthen maternal, newborn and child health.”
World Vision’s departure comes after a two-year effort by the organization to re-gain formal registration. The charity began working in Pakistan in 2005.
“World Vision regrets the effect that the cessation of our work will have on the vulnerable communities with whom we worked, but respects the Government’s right to decide who may work in the country,” it said. “It will continue to discuss the possibility of re-starting work under any new legal framework which the government may subsequently introduce.”
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith