Experts from the public sector and the civil society have urged the government to engage with the private sector to complete development projects and to consider civil society organisations (CSOs) as partners for development of the country.

They expressed their views during a webinar titled ‘The State of Civil Society in Pakistan’ jointly organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) and Pakistan Centre for Philanthropy (PCP) on Saturday.

Economic Affairs Division (EAD) INGOs/NGOs Joint Secretary Syeda Adeela Bokhari informed the participants that her division regulated only those INGOs which received financial contribution from foreign countries and donors.

“To ensure accountability and financial transparency of the INGOs/NGOs, the ministry has devised a new draft policy, which will be implemented after formal approval from the federal cabinet,” Bokhari said. “In addition, a web-portal is being created to facilitate online applications for registration of INGOs/NGOs with the EAD.”

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She added that the new policy was aimed at curtailing the completion time of the registration process to 60 days. According to her, a record number of memorandums of understanding (MOUs) had been finalised during the last quarter.

She stressed that the EAD was open to civil society organisations and planned to facilitate the entities that were doing a good job. Moreover, she called for greater accountability and transparency in the sector.

Speaking on the occasion, former parliamentarian Dr Attiya Inayatullah highlighted the role of civil society organisations and said that they worked for the development of the country and democracy.

“CSOs in Pakistan are facing challenges at multiple fronts therefore we need for unity of purpose among government, private sector and the civil society,” she said. “To bring a social change and to achieve the goal of sustainable development, vibrant role of CSOs is the need of the hour”.

SZABIST President Shahnaz Wazir Ali was of the view that apart from being a regulator, the government should also act as facilitator to the CSOs to make them equal partners in the development and social uplift. “Challenges such as over-regulation and over-documentation for working of CSOs should be addressed to create an enabling environment for them to serve the society,” she said.

SDPI Research Fellow Dr Shafqat Munir said that the government and civil society should work together for sustainable growth and development of the country.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 17th, 2021.

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