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Saturday, July 8, 2017

Petition asking ban on USAID activities in Pakistan field in IHC

ISLAMABAD: A petition has been filed in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) seeking a ban on the activities of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for “interfering in the country’s internal affairs” by collecting data and information in the name of facilitating people to get national identity cards and become registered voters.

The petition – filed by Muhammad Bilal advocate on Wednesday – requests the court to form a commission under a sitting or retired judge of the superior court to probe the activities of USAID in Pakistan and ensure the availability of complete information of American citizens in the country.

The Federation, through secretaries of the Interior, Foreign Affairs, Defence and Law and Justice, and the chief election commissioner have been made respondents in the case.

According to the petitioner, the USAID launched its ‘so-called’ Citizen Voice Project in 2011 to foster links between the government and the citizens in Pakistan through some local NGOs. The activities under the project apparently started in areas of energy, water and citizens oversight of municipal services.

“But in pursuance of the vested national interests of USA in this country and the region, the USAID has now been entered into a sensitive areas” facilitating people, especially women, in acquiring CNICs and getting registered as voters, the petitioner states.

“The concepts and scope of the humanitarian assistance, charity, human rights and democracy are not absolute and never allow any state to intervene into the internal affairs of other states or violate the fundamental rights of citizens,” he argues.

The petitioner alleges that the ‘hidden’ objectives of the USAID through such activities are to collect data and information, penetrate into social structure, influence the political process, sabotage development projects, cause destabilisation and create security problems for Pakistan under the pretext of humanitarian assistance, human rights and democracy.

“The USAID also intends to create hurdles in the way to pursue an independent foreign policy towards neighbouring countries and the Muslim world as well as to damage our international standing,” he says.

The role played by the USAID in the past was controversial because the agency was behind many anti-state activities which resulted in undermining the sovereignty and security of Pakistan, he alleges further.

“The activities of USAID are in violation to the provisions of Articles 5, 9, 14, 15, 20, 35 and 40 of the Constitution,” states the petitioner, adding, “The fundamental rights of citizens guaranteed by the Constitution can only be enforced in a peaceful, secure and stable national environment.”

He maintains that the respondents “misused their powers in granting permission to the USAID for carrying out activities prejudicial to the state and fundamental rights of the citizens as the executive action has no legal basis”.

The petitioner has prayed to the court to direct the Ministry of Interior to ban the activities of the USAID, including the Citizen Voice Project, in the country being illegal; and direct the respondents to produce documents or agreement with regard to the extent of the USAID activities and areas of operation for information of the general public.

He has also requested the court to form a commission, headed by a sitting or retired judge of the superior court, to probe the activities of USAID in Pakistan and ensure availability of complete information of American citizens present in the country.

The case is fixed for hearing before Justice Aamer Farooq on July 6 (today)

Read more on ...  Express Tribune



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