Authorities order shutdown of rights groups over `anti-state activities` in Pakistan

Islamabad [Pakistan]: Authorities in the Punjab province of Pakistan have ordered several women and human rights groups to shut down, accusing them of unspecified ” anti-state activities”.
Pakistan government has toughened its stance against local and international non-governmental organisations (INGOs) in recent years, accusing some of using their work as a cover for espionage, reports the Daily Times.

“They are shutting up people by harassment,” said IA Rehman, an official of the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.

Police and security officials have ordered about a dozen non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to halt operations, mostly in Punjab, Rehman added, with groups working on women’s and human rights appearing to be the main targets.

Two officials of non-governmental bodies in Punjab told the news agency that police had ordered their employees to halt work. “Yesterday, the police went to one of my colleagues in Bahawalpur and asked him to shut our office over there,” said Mohammad Tehseen, director of the South Asia Partnership Pakistan, which focuses on women’s rights.

The police gave him a letter issued by the Punjab Home Department alleging that his organisation was “pursuing (an) anti-state agenda”. Tehseen denied the charge, and said the police would not specify any actions to support the accusation. Other organisations have received similar letters.(ANI)