Pakistan Cracks Down on Charities, World Vision Given 90 Days to Leave

A policeman stands guard outside the Save the Children charity's office in Islamabad, Pakistan, June 12, 2015. |

The government in Pakistan has ordered 27 international aid groups, including World Vision, to shut down alleging they were working in unauthorized areas and aiding human rights campaigners. The groups have been given 90 days to leave.

The 27 groups that have been asked to leave by Pakistan's interior ministry include Action Aid, Plan International, Trocaire, Pathfinder International, Danish Refugee Council, George Soros' Open Society Foundations, Oxfam Novib, and Marie Stopes, according to Reuters.

Pakistan's Minister of State for Interior Affairs, Talal Chaudhry, told Reuters the nonprofits were doing work in Pakistan "which is beyond their mandate and for which they have no legal justification." He added that the groups spent "all their money" on administration and are not doing the work they said they were doing.

Chaudhry said the number of nonprofit groups grew after the 9/11 attacks in the United States. "But there were also a number of NGOs that are used, knowingly or unknowingly for activities that conflict with Pakistan's national interests."

The government's edict is being seen as part of a crackdown, which includes disappearance of civil society activists and is supposedly aimed at quelling free speech. Reuters estimates that at least 14 people have been picked up and interrogated from major urban centers including journalists, political workers and social media activists.

World Vision in Pakistan, which is working with children and youth to provide them with access to education, protection, sustainable income generation, healthcare, food and better care within their homes and communities, says it is appealing the decision.

A spokesman from the group told Christian Today: "World Vision is cooperating fully with the government of Pakistan on this matter and we hope our appeal to this decision will be positive so that we can continue our work with the children of Pakistan."

World Vision Pakistan has worked with roughly 800,000 children since 2015 and now "fears for their well-being if our programs are ended."

"Our primary concern is the continuation of our work with some of the most vulnerable children in Pakistan," it said.

Last November, Pakistan's television regulatory body banned all 11 Christian TV channels airing in the country and arrested at least six cable operators for defying the order.

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