LAHORE    -   The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Friday rejected the petition filed by an INGO pleading that it be allowed to work without permission in Pakistan.

Justice Jawad Hassan passed a 19-page order in the case. The submission made for declaring the interior ministry’s policy for foreigners null and void was also rejected.

The court ruled that international companies cannot work without permission of the State Bank of Pakistan.

It also ruled that the interior ministry can scrutinise the documents of foreign citizens and directed the government to take steps to provide facilities for foreign investors. “Pakistan needs foreign investment,” remarked the judge.

The court remarked that the local laws pertaining to foreign investment are as per the constitution. However, the court asked the petitioner company to file an application online to the Interior Ministry and directed the ministry to make decision within two months after hearing the petitioner.

In 2015, Pakistan ordered all INGOs operating in the country to register with the Interior Ministry and submit detailed accounts of their financing. After the process, the interior ministry rejected the applications of more than a dozen INGOs seeking registration.

Last year, the PTI government shut down approximately 10 US-based INGOs working in the country. The Ministry of Interior had ordered 18 aid groups to shut down their operations in the country.

The aid groups banned in the country include Save the Children; Centre for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), Internews Network, Pathfinder International, Central Asia Education Trust, American Center for Intl Labor Solidarity (Solidarity Center), World Vision, Catholic Relief Svc (CRS), Plan International, International Relief and Development Inc, (IRD), International Alert, Saferworld and Action Aid, Danish Refugee Council (DRC), Foundation Open Society Institute (FOSI) and ISCOS, and Trade Union Institute for Development Coop.

Reply sought in plea for stay against LG funds

The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Friday took up a dissolution of local government case and sought reply from the government and the Election Commission of Pakistan on an application seeking stay order against use of local government funds.

The court also summoned the local government secretary and ECP representative in the case. The court directed the petitioners’ counsels to file replies to the reply of the government.

Meanwhile, an identical petition filed by former federal minister Danyal Aziz was dismissed due to non-prosecution.

The court was moved, seeking decision on fate of thousands of people’s representatives elected for the ‘third tier’ of government in 2015-16 in Punjab as the provincial government had dissolved local governments on May 4 to introduce a new local bodies system.

Various petitioners had challenged the dissolution notification in the LHC, submitting that the notification be declared null and void.

The petitioners submitted that the Article 140-A of the Constitution binds the province to legislate for establishing local governments and devolving powers to such local governments. Article 140-A says, “Each province shall, by law, establish a local government system and devolve political, administrative and financial responsibility and authority to the elected representatives of the local governments.”