A statement issued by P.M. Sharif’s office says the organizations have three months to comply.
Pakistan on Tuesday announced that all international aid groups operating in the country must re-register themselves with authorities within three months as part of a wider crackdown that has involved sealing the offices of Save the Children.
The decision, which will require the groups to undergo a fresh assessment by intelligence agencies before they are given the green light to remain in Pakistan, was taken during a meeting chaired by Prime Minster Nawaz Sharif, his office said in a statement. “After discussions, the meeting decided that all INGOs [International Non-government Organizations] presently working in Pakistan will continue to function for a period of six months within specified areas of operation allowed by the concerned authorities,” it said. “It was further decided that in order to streamline the functioning of the INGOs in Pakistan, all INGOs will complete the process of their fresh registration with the Government of Pakistan within three months.”
Pakistan has toughened its policies toward international aid groups in recent years, accusing them of covering for spying operations. Save the Children’s offices in Pakistan were sealed last week and its operations remained suspended on Tuesday, despite media reports the government had reversed an order halting its work in the country.
Authorities accused the charity of “working against the country,” and threatened to expel more foreign aid groups for supposedly undermining Pakistan.
In 2012 the government expelled the expatriate staff of Save the Children, which has worked in Pakistan for over 35 years and employs 1,200 Pakistanis. That move came after Pakistani intelligence services accused the charity of links to doctor Shakeel Afridi, whom the CIA allegedly used to carry out a fake vaccination program as they searched for Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.
Save the Children has always vehemently denied any link to either Afridi or the CIA. The United States on Friday warned Pakistan it was only hurting itself by its actions against aid groups.