By Saad Sayeed
Dec. 13, 2017, at 8:02 a.m.
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Pakistan has told at least 10 foreign-funded aid groups to close, an umbrella agency said on Wednesday, including a charity founded by hedge fund billionaire and philanthropist George Soros, the group said.
Pakistan has toughened its stance towards domestic and international non-governmental groups in recent years, accusing some of using their work as a cover for espionage.
In January, it ordered about a dozen groups working on women’s issues and human rights to halt their operations.
A representative of the Pakistan Humanitarian Forum (PHF), which represents 63 international aid groups, said the Ministry of Interior had issued 10 of its members “letters of rejection”, meaning their applications to register had been rejected.
The forum did not identify the 10 groups but two international groups, the Pakistani branch of the Soros’ charity the Open Society Foundations, and ActionAid, said they had been told they had to close.
“We obviously find what has happened both disappointing and surprising, and are urgently seeking clarification,” the executive director of the Open Society’s Pakistani office, Saba Khattak, said in a statement.
The group had spent $37 million on grants and relief assistance in Pakistan since 2005, she said.
The interior ministry did not respond to requests for comment.
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