Joint Local Statement on the situation of International Non-Governmental Organisations

The European Union Delegation, the Heads of Mission of the European Union Member States represented in Pakistan[1], and the Heads of Mission of Australia, Canada, Japan, Norway and Switzerland strongly believe that a vibrant civil society is indispensable for good governance and inclusive development, issues that Prime Minister Imran Khan's Government promotes and which are at the heart of the Sustainable Development Goals. 

We have been engaging with the leadership of Pakistan to revisit the situation of those international non-governmental organisations (INGOs) whose registration was initially rejected by the previous administration. We welcome the recent offer for an open dialogue as proposed by the Government of Pakistan, and hope that this dialogue will be initiated shortly. 

We fully respect the Government’s right to maintain an INGO registration policy but we share a deep concern over the way in which it has been implemented, the potential for more INGOs to be closed without clear justification, the impact on Pakistan’s civil society, and the implications for Pakistan in achieving good governance and inclusive development. 

Earlier this month the deadline given by the Government of Pakistan to the 18 reputable and well-known INGOs to wind up their operations expired, leaving them with no other option but to terminate their operations and to re-apply in 6 months' time. This means that financial support to Pakistani organisations will be reduced as most INGOs work through local institutions to carry out their activities.

We believe that the work of INGOs contributes in reaching the Sustainable Development Goals in Pakistan. We are of the view that the rejected INGOs have been positively contributing towards these goals in many areas. With their expertise, flexibility, and ability to operate under difficult circumstances, international and national NGOs have made invaluable contributions to Pakistan and are indispensable for our countries to continue our wide-ranging cooperation activities in partnership with the Government of Pakistan.

We urge that, in the interest of the population of Pakistan, not least its most vulnerable citizens, a solution be found as soon as possible to avoid the closing down of further INGOs' activities.

Islamabad, 13 December 2018

[1] Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom