LAHORE - Nearly two dozen international and local non-governmental organisations (NGOs), operating across the country, have been put on watch list to closely monitor their activities which sometimes appear “inappropriate”, it is learnt reliably.

Well-placed contacts in the state security apparatus, privy to the developments on this count, confided to The Nation on Thursday that the NGOs put on watch list included international welfare organisations being run on Pakistani soil by Westerners from Europe, the US and Scandinavian countries as well as by Muslims from across the globe.

The sources said it had been detected on some occasions that the NGOs put on watch list were carrying out some undesirable activities which could directly or indirectly endanger the interests of the state at a later stage if the fronts of the mentioned organisations knowingly or unknowingly played a proactive role.

According to them, placing some international and local NGOs on the watch list does not mean that the entire organisation was involved in unsuitable actions. In some cases, a few members of such organisations using these fronts for activities in violation of their mandate were found involved in inappropriate actions. However, in some cases the entire organization was found involved in such activities.

The security contacts divulged that the NGOs put on the watch list were operating near conflict zones of the country, including Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, tribal areas and turbulent regions of Balochistan. While some of these organisations in the list were working in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and in parts of Punjab, especially South Punjab, they added.

They revealed the local NGOS working in collaboration with some ‘grey’ international charity organisations were included in that list.  They further disclosed a local NGO’s members, during their visits to Multan and Dera Ghazi Khan along with their international donors, held meetings with members of some banned organisations. Some members of that organisation were picked up by a security service for interrogation during which they confessed their links with a foreign network, gathering information on banned organisations operating from South Punjab.

However, the security contacts declined to share the name of the NGO as it was cooperating with them for a major sting operation to catch the other local members of the network.

The Interior Ministry officials, while endorsing the information, said some individuals of international and local NGOs, sometimes the entire organisations found involved in activities that endangered the national interest, were banned, while Western members of such organisations thrown out with the possibility of not coming back. As regards local charity networks, directly or indirectly found involved in activities against the state, they were brought to book.

The Interior Ministry officials said some international NGOs that had been banned in the past landed in the country on the pretext of carrying out earthquake relief activities in 2005 and flood relief activities in 2010-2013.  In the second week of the current month, Information Management and Mine Action Programmes (IMMAP) was banned from operating in Pakistan because of its grey activities.

The offices of the organisation were sealed by a top secret service along with the Islamabad police in the federal capital, while its entire record confiscated for concrete evidence.

The organisation continued to map flood-devastated areas, using the Geographic Information System (GIS), despite having been declared a security risk by the National Disaster Management Authority, due to the lethargy or negligence of the section of a secret service monitoring the actions of this specific NGO.

NDMA Chairman Dr Zafar Qadir told media persons after the sealing of the office of the NGO that IMMAP had been operating in the country since January as an illegal entity.

The organisation had been working in Pakistan with the UNOCHA. It was taken on board after the 2010 floods to develop a ‘single reporting format’ project for the NDMA to standardise the procedures, enabling all stakeholders to report progress on various projects and activities during and after emergencies.

As the IMMAP, despite lapse of 11 months, failed to develop the web-based programme in accordance with the NDMA specifications, NDMA disassociated itself from the organisation.

Brig (r) Mehmood Shah, former secretary, Fata, a region where international NGOs operated frequently in the past told this correspondent that the international charities first reported to the Fata Secretariat, during his stint in office, to get their credentials examined.

He added that an officer of the rank of at least a major from ISI was deputed with the charity workers to travel in the tribal areas.