During a press conference held in Peshawar today, Mr. Zar Ali khan Afridi, Defend International coordinator in FATA and the chairman of the Tribal NGOs Consortium, denounced the restrictions imposed on human rights defenders and civil society in FATA and Pakistan.
The continued targeting of human rights activists and civil society organisations have given way to a unified message from a coalition of NGOs. Representatives of civil Society of FATA gathered in Peshawar Press Club to discuss the restrictions on several civil society organisations, such as South Asia Partnership Pakistan (SAP-PK), and to demand that the targeting of NGOs should be stopped, noting that these organisations are playing an important role in “creating a participatory environment for citizens to shape their societies based on their aspirations, within framework of the constitutional rights and entitlements.”
The Tribal NGOs Consortium and Civil society of KP issued a press release that said in part, “since the past few years stringent policies and rules have been introduced that are affecting different aspects of NGOs functioning and curbing their rights to speak freely on government’s policies and actions… any mention of the rights especially of minorities, women and transgender is considered as an anti-state activity or a condemned act. Several NGOs have been deregistered only for raising voice for women, children and religious minorities…
We believe that realization of our rightful, fair and positive objectives is not possible without cooperation and support of the government. We also believe in the supremacy of the Constitution of Pakistan and rule of law. We support the governments for all acts that are taken to improve the status and conditions of the people of Pakistan without any distinction.
We adhere to our commitment that since the government alone cannot achieve the development agenda; therefore respecting the international instrumentsthe government must make the civil society as its partner in this agenda. There is an urgent need to review this attitude against these organizations at the State, government and institutional levels in order to move forward for a better, strong and enlightened Pakistan.”
Photo: Zar Ali Khan Afridi (talking), Sana Ijaz, Shabeena Ayaz, Arshad Haroon and shamim Shahid Shamim