ISLAMABAD - The Ministry of Interior yesterday allowed 19 more international non-government organizations (INGOs) to work in Pakistan in their respective fields under its new policy.

This is the first time that the ministry has allowed permission to such number of INGOs under the new policy of registration and regulation of INGOs that was announced in October last year.

The decision was taken at a meeting held under the chair of Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan. The INGO Committee, formed under the policy, would complete the process of granting them formal approval within a week, the interior ministry said in a statement.

The government while unveiling the policy has asked all INGOs operating in Pakistan to get them registered fresh through the ministry within 60 days. The deadline was later extended till December 31, 2015. The previous MoUs of all INGOs were cancelled and these were allowed to work for an interim period till final decision.

Earlier in December last, the ministry had given first formal authorization to two INGOs - Qattar Charity and MSF Belgium - to work in Pakistan. However, around 150 INGOs have so far applied fresh with the Ministry of Interior. And the decision is still pending for the remaining ones who are working on interim basis. INGOs, without a valid MoU, are facing difficulties in the import of life-saving medicines as well as food intended for free distribution, obtaining visas and other project related permissions, claims Pakistan Humanitarian Forum (PHF), a representative body of INGOs.

The meeting under the interior minister also discussed a host of issues including the deliberations during the recently held meeting of Joint Re-admission Committee in Brussels, the present status of Exit Control List (ECL), monitoring the capacity of private security companies besides security arrangements put in place for the educational institutions and media houses in Islamabad.

The meeting was informed that the European Union (EU) showed complete understanding of Pakistan’s concerns over the issue of deportees and various loopholes in the implementation of the EU Re-admission Accord (EURA) and has assured to address these issues in line with the accord, the immigration laws and the SOPs developed by the ministry.

A senior officer giving a briefing to the meeting said that under the new ECL policy, the figure of ECL had come down from more than 14,000 to around 3,000 at present.

The meeting also discussed formulating new SOPs regarding private security companies. The chair directed that in the first phase, 196 security companies of the federal capital should be given notices to provide their complete details including number of employees, offices and training mechanism to the interior ministry within one week, failing which their permission to operate would be cancelled.

Ch. Nisar said that security companies would have to provide genuine services to their clients otherwise their licenses would be revoked. Genuine problems of the security companies will be addressed, continued the minister. He said that it was imperative that security companies must own and equip their personnel with the required firearms and training while also ensuring rights of the employees. Those license holders whose only objective is to make money without providing due service and security will not be allowed to function, the meeting decided.

In order to review the security of schools, media houses and other important installations in the federal capital, it was decided that a meeting of all the stakeholders would be held on Thursday, wherein CDA would put forth concrete proposals to shift over 350 private schools currently located in residential areas.

The issue involves tens of thousands of students studying in these schools, the meeting observed.

Outgoing Secretary Interior Shahid Khan, National Coordinator (NC) National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) and senior officials of the ministry attended the meeting among others.