Attitude of State towards civil society in Pakistan

The State is not clear about the role of Civil Society Organisations. State attitude is sometimes positive and sometimes very negative in Pakistan.

The State has enacted laws to regulate the functioning of NGOs, however as in other cases these laws are selectively applied usually the application of these laws is politically motivated. Despite having registration and regulation laws the state continuously subject NGO sector to be controlled through other laws and in some cases without any laws. Different state institutions have different perception of NGOs thus creating a confused mindset resulting in more control these organizations then to regulate and or facilitate. The NGOs ( right based, development oriented) are usually perceived as a threat to state., However when they work on charitable causes they are perceived as good NGOs

The Government has imposed some sanctions during the last few years especially during Earth Quake, Floods and Armed Conflict. The interference of Political Party Representatives, Army and District Government has increased. The Government officials have played an important role in making corrupt the Humanitarian support Organisations in Pakistan.

During the past decade there has been observed a significant shift in the relations between government and NGO sector, especially in KP and Baluchistan whereby NGOs are required to get clearance from the respective Corps headquarters, The criteria is not clear and the military is not bound to provide reasons for rejecting any applications. In FATA the NGOs has to go through the same procedure. NGOs are normally perceived as not promoting the local agenda rather they are perceived as promoting the western agenda / interests. Pakistan is ranked as the 4rth or 5th dangerous country for the aid workers on the basis of security.

The attitude of State towards Rights Based Organization versus Militant Groups.

The NGOs (Non-Governmental Organisations) movement has become one of the weakest movements in Pakistan compared to the era of 1990. At that time NGOs were united under the National and Provincial Networks, developed a common stand on the policies of Government toward NGOs and they were in a position to influence the Government and Policy makers. Late Omar Asghar Khan of SUNGI had played a leading role to unite the NGO sector.

During Afghan war, the International Forces promoted the phenomenon of NGOs in Pakistan and Afghanistan and a great number of NGOs were used to provide shelter, food, health and skills development for Afghan Refugees in Pakistan. Pakistani agencies were also aware of the situation and even collaborated with NGOs in it.

Pakistani Government also formed and registered NGOs which are called GONGOs (Government organized NGOs) . These NGOs provide services.

After the natural and manmade disasters in Pakistan, the doors of International Aid opened and funds were available in bulks. As a result a large number of NGOs came into being, some powerful Bureaucrats and Politicians sponsored a few of those. The interaction between powerful section in the Government and Bureaucracy gave an impression to the powerful sections that there is abundance of financial resources in the NGOs sector.  Pakistani Political parties also formed and registered their NGOs in Pakistan. Dignitaries and celebrities also entered in this sector.  

The International Terrorists also formed and registered their NGOs nationally and internationally. The groups who are allegedly involved in International Terrorism having their hubs in Pakistan also formed/registered their NGOs, who effectively provided social services to the common people.  

During the entire process, NGOs mainly divided into two groups one Service Providers and the Second Rights Based. The State Institutions of Pakistan are very happy with the work and existence of Service Providing NGOs even if these NGOs are run and attached with the National and International Terrorist Groups.

The Rights based NGOs, which raise the issue of human rights violations in Pakistan suffer a lot. The Intelligence agencies always threat their Board members and staff, the registration offices are used against these NGOs, a malicious propaganda is made against these NGOs on regular basis, they are  treated and behaved like foreign agents, representatives of Jews and Christians, anti-state and anti- religion and even corrupt.

In recent years the de-registration process of NGOs has been started while new registration process has been stopped or made very slow and so many agencies have been involved in oversight the process of registration and working of NGOs.

The main windows of international funding for Pakistani NGOs are nearly closed.  The Internal funding in Pakistan is already specific for the NGOs attached with powerful sections in the Government and State.

The Rights Based Organisations are also working in peace building, addressing the issues of growing militancy among young people especially in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province. The Government institutions and intelligence agencies have a negative attitude towards these rights based and Peace-building organisations. While we witnessed on the day of Eid ul Azha this month that Militant Organisations, openly collected donations in the name of holly war in all the districts and agencies of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. They displayed banners showing even the cell numbers for contacts, but they were given free hand and no action has been taken against the culprits. I hereby share with you a video recorded in Bannu that shows how openly these militant organisations are enjoying the liberty to work, while Rights based Organisations who are opposing the militancy are under threats from both State and Non-State Actors. It is time for the State agencies to decide, where do they want to drive and push the country.