Islamabad - The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Thursday reserved its verdict over maintainability of a writ petition moved against working of the international non-governmental organisations (INGOs) in Pakistan.

A single bench of IHC comprising Justice Aamer Farooq conducted hearing of the petition filed by Shohada Foundation of Pakistan (SFP) through its counsel Tariq Asad Advocate.

Justice Aamer reserved his judgement after hearing the preliminary arguments of the counsel of the petitioner.

The petitioner Ihtasham, the Trustee of SFP, cited Federation through Secretary Ministry of Interior, Economics Affairs Division, through its Secretary Ministry of Finance and Economics Affairs, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) through its Director General, Intelligence Bureau (IB) through its Director General, and deputy commissioner/ district magistrate Islamabad as respondents.

He adopted in the petition that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had formed a committee under Special Assistant to PM on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi, to give its recommendations on the regulation of INGOs working in Pakistan.

The petitioner added that the committee is finalising its recommendations in consultation with all the stakeholders, representatives of intelligence agencies, State Bank of Pakistan, Economic Affairs Division and interior ministry. He stated that the Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali on 12th June, 2015, had said in a press conference that some international non-governmental organizations (NGOIs) in Pakistan are being backed by the United States, Israel and India. Addressing the press conference in Islamabad, the interior minister’s claims came just a day after authorities sealed the Islamabad offices of the international aid group Save the Children and ordered it to leave the country saying the charity was “working against the country”.

“The government did not make any formal announcement but an official from the interior ministry said that the agency was involved in the “anti-Pakistan activities.”

“Their activities have been monitored since long. They were doing something which was against Pakistan’s interest. The official without giving his name told the media that he was not authorized to speak to the media,” maintained the petition.

However, the counsel for the petitioner stated that Ch Nisar had said that there are several NGOs operating in Pakistan without any specific agenda. He alleged that most of them were taking part in anti-Pakistan activities. He said that they welcome NGOs in Pakistan, but they need to understand the laws and constitution of Pakistan. He reiterated that the government won’t let any NGO work “under the table” as the ministry was receiving several intelligence reports about illegal NGOs, but no action was being taken against them. “Under the guidance of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, a committee would be formed by Tariq Fatemi to look into this matter,” he said.

Regarding EU’s concerns over prosecutions in Pakistan, he asked the EU to respect Pakistan’s Constitution and said that Pakistan is “up to its neck.”

He said: “We are up to our neck - terrorists set a war on us. We respect your laws and constitution, you should do the same. We are in state of war. It is a key part of our National Action Plan.”

Quoting the interior minister, Tariq Asad mentioned that he said the matter of NGOs operations will be taken to its logical conclusion and these will be made to operate under the laws and rules of the countries. He said there were many grey areas right now and the review will cover nature of operation, mode of funds utilization, purview and timeline of the agreement under which these are allowed to operate. He said the NGOs against which there were clear intelligence reports about their involvement in activities against the national interest will not be allowed to operate.

He added that the intelligence agencies had recently reported to the ministry of interior that the activities of the INGO, namely ‘Save the Children’ in some areas of Pakistan were suspicious and the competent authorities, therefore, banned the operations of international aid group Save the Children in the country and sealed the office of the NGO located in Islamabad.

He contended that immediately after its first order in which it had sealed offices and operations of the INGO in Islamabad, the Ministry of Interior allowed the international NGO to continue its work in the country.

Advocate Tariq added that Interior Ministry had earlier issued a notification banning the INGO but withdrew the decision through another notification, apparently upon the mounting pressure.

“It is reported that the officials of the INGO contacted senior politicians and bureaucrats after which a new notification was issued by the Ministry of Interior that annulled its previous notification and thus the new notification has postponed the banning of the INGO,” maintained the counsel.

He argued that the annulment of the notification to ban the INGO ‘Save the Children’ is prejudicial to the integrity and sovereignty of Pakistan and violation of Article 9 of the petitioner and citizens of Pakistan.

Therefore, he prayed to the court that it may graciously be pleased to call for the record of reports of Intelligence Agencies/Respondents No. 3 and 4 and the material on which the respondent No. 1 after relying, had passed the order to ban the NGO ‘Save the Children’ and direct the Respondent No. 1 to withdraw the latter decision by which it has been postponed.

He further prayed that scrutiny of all the International and National NGOs which are being sponsored by foreign finances be made and be directed to place the comprehensive report before this court and be restrained from working in Pakistan as all those are equipped with the task of undermining the integrity, sovereignty and ideology of Pakistan.