NGOs Convene to Discuss Matters of Survival

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Karachi, March 18: Non governmental organizations (NGOs) and International NGO representatives gathered in Karachi on Sunday to meet with the author of the `Democracy Train,’ and express their concern at the restrictions being imposed by the government to carry on their daily activities.

The NGO representatives were especially concerned that their colleagues working with the INGOs could lose their jobs if their registration was not renewed.

The fate of several INGOs has hung in the balance since the Ministry of Interior ordered them to wind up their projects last December, on the ground that they were working against national “security interests.”

Uroosa Khatti, ActionAid Pakistan Country Program’s Regional Manager said that the failure to renew the registrations of these INGOs threatened to hamper their work against poverty alleviation, especially the assistance they rendered to poverty stricken women.

According to the Poverty Eradication Initiative’s provincial coordinator, Aijaz Ali Khuwaja, in recent years the space for NGOs has been shrinking especially where they attempt to hold seminars and meetings to increase awareness on social issues and matters of governance.

Thardeep Rural Development Program’s chief executive officer, Allah Nawaz Samoo said that there seemed to be a growing international trend toward authoritarian and dictatorial regimes, and a shift away from democracy.

Some NGO representatives wanted to hear from the author whether their voices in support of women and minorities were heard, and whether the issue of disappearances and human rights violations in Pakistan made a splash in the outside world.

They said that television tended to give little space to important trends in politics and human rights and was mostly consumed by sensationalism.

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