Pak NGOs under fire

some right-wing religious groups of Pakistan have come out with statements that give an indication of a hate campaign against non-governmental organisations ( ngos). Media reports indicate that ngos are concerned about this as the Pakistan government has maintained a stony silence on the issue.

A July 10 report in the Delhi edition of The Hindu pointed out that the Milli Yakjethi Council ( myc ), an umbrella organisation of religious outfits like the Jamaat Ulema Islami ( jui ) and the Jamaat Ulema-e-Pakistan ( jup ), has adopted a very aggressive stance, asking the government under the military rule of Pervez Musharraf to either "control" the ngos or face the consequences.

The myc has accused such organisations of indulging in "anti-Islamic" activities and implementing the plans of unnamed foreign powers. The ngo s have also been charged with creating a rift among Muslims and the minorities of Pakistan to pave the way for "outside intervention".

Speaking at a gathering in Karachi on July 8, Fazlur Rehman, maulana of the jui , said that the aim of most ngo s was to tarnish the image of religious organisations in the country. A week before this, in a meeting with Musharraf, Shah Ahmed Noorani, maulana of the jup , emphasised the need to maintain a close watch over ngos' activities.

Feeling threatened by the aggressive stance of the right-wing religious groups, Asma Jehangir, former chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, issued a press statement to say that every known ngo in the country had been under the constant scrutiny of all governments. Jehangir was in Delhi in the third week of July but could not be contacted for comment. The Hindu also reported that a group of ngos and social activists had gathered in a meeting recently to take stock of the situation. They adopted a communique to the government, asking it to check the reckless propaganda against them.