Aid charities ActionAid and Plan ‘to be turfed out’ of Pakistan

(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –The Pakistani government has ordered international NGOs to end their operations and leave the country within 60 days.

One of the charities affected, ActionAid, said the move was part of a “worrying escalation of recent attacks on civil society” in Pakistan.

The Pakistani Interior Ministry would not comment on the cases.

But in a letter to ActionAid, seen by the BBC, it was told it could “re-apply for registration” in six months’ time.

Eighteen charities have been expelled from the country, ActionAid told the BBC.

The move comes amidst increasing concerns by human rights activists and press freedom campaigners about freedom of expression in the country.

Pakistan’s intelligence services have viewed NGOs with increased suspicion since the discovery in 2011 of a fake vaccination programme in the country run by the CIA aiming to track down Osama bin Laden.

Officials have previously accused “Save the Children” of links to the scheme, though the charity denies that.

ActionAid and a number of other international NGOs were ordered to leave Pakistan in December 2017. But following pressure from Western governments were allowed to stay in the country whilst they appealed against the decision.

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