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Editorial

Civil society is the latest target

Editorial
Graphic by Naseem ur Rehman

There seems no letup in the curbs being put in place on the people and their freedoms. They have come in the shape of enactment of stricter laws that compromise standards of fair trial as well as deny free speech that has the potential of falling in cybercrime. Ironic then that the laws too could not come in handy and people still needed to be disappeared.

The actions by the state are manifested in quick succession. The latest target seems to be the country’s non-governmental organisations or NGOs. In the last ten days or so, many of them have been asked to halt their operations particularly in South Punjab; the letters they have been issued project them as engaged in anti-national and anti-state activities.

Those who could do so moved the courts and got stay orders in their favour. But that does not seem like a permanent solution to the problem. The mistrust of NGOs is nothing new and, in the last few years, we have seen many international organisations having been made to stop their operations in certain areas. In other cases, they are required to go through the tedium of getting no objection certificates from the government.

The pattern is the same and is familiar to everyone. The advocacy NGOs and the civil society organisations that demand people’s rights are the ones that are particularly targeted. There are certain geographical and ideological bounds that are not supposed to be crossed. What is worse, the other kind of NGOs, the mosques and madsrassas that run on foreign money and are said to be involved in spreading extremism, hate speech and sectarianism, are not asked any questions.

Rather than acting in isolation, the civil society must put its act together and make broader alliances with other forces in the civilian sphere, be it media or academia or political parties, in order to ensure for itself the constitutional safeguards and guarantees. It looks like they won’t get them on a platter.

Read also: NGOs under fire

Editor

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