When institutions are strong and everyone gets his/her due rights and justice then such state/society leaves no space or vacuum for NGOs. Alternatively, when a country fails to give rights, justice, jobs, education, health, and awareness to its citizens then it directly and indirectly invites NGOs to fill that vacuum. What if a country is unable to provide all these rights and at the same time keeps banning NGOs — this is only possible in Pakistan. The news regarding the blacklisting of International NGOs appeared in the media during the last few weeks. The government in the past made similar decisions tp blacklist INGOs but reversed its decision after international pressure.Every International NGO in Pakistan operates through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and Non-Objection Certificate which are applied in the Economic Affairs Division. It is mandatory for any organization to have a registration before the implementation of the Project, however, many INGOs and contractors operate through a different local name instead of their original names and still manage to work, until they criticize any policy or social injustice in the country. Global majority of the banned organizations are those who criticize Government’s policies or social injustice in the country, therefore, these organizations such as Action Aid or Oxfam usually face challenges in operations in not only Pakistan but other regions. For instance, Oxfam has been criticizing the European Union for being a tax haven. This is an advocacy campaign to create awareness regarding tax stealing and tax haven countries of Europe. There are several types of international organizations that are operating in Pakistan. They include INGOs, Contractors (profitable companies), think tanks and foundations. The Government of Pakistan categorizes all of them as INGOs and apply the same rules and regulations on them. Even within INGOs, there are many categories depending on the nature of their work. For instance, some INGOs operate in emergencies and disasters, some work in relief and development and others in advocacy and awareness functions. Besides this, NGOs may be categorized on the basis of thematic areas such as health, education, governance and so on.INGOs which are purely development organizations who neither criticize governments nor closely operate within government departments, but rather work in communities to deliver their services to make a difference at grassroots levelThe question is then which INGOs are usually banned or face challenges in operating in developing countries? INGOs which are purely development organizations who neither criticize governments nor closely operate within government departments, but rather work in communities to deliver their services to make a difference at grassroots level; such organizations usually get a clean chit from ministries as neither government nor communities feel threatened. Implementation of clean water or sanitation projects, health or food distribution are projects usually implemented by such organizations. INGOs who remain on the grey list of governments are usually those who carry out development projects but also include advocacy components to ensure governments also realize their responsibilities and are held accountable by taxpayers or voters. For instance, Oxfam (a UK based INGO) works in rural communities on eliminating Gender-Based Violence or Women empowerment through skills learning, it also carries out advocacy for strengthening of laws on GBV or Women rights. In an effort to make communities aware of their rights, they pressurise governments and this is why Governments grey list such organizations. Yet again, it depends on thematic areas in which organizations carry out advocacy campaigns. Alif-Ailaan, an education advocacy project, has remained one of the famous projects implemented by a UK based entity ‘DAI’, however, it did not face any problem because of its focus on education and schools. Whereas organizations which work on gender and rights usually fall in the lists of anti-state interests.There are also dozens of INGOs which help the government in running its machinery and doing so they sometimes take charge. For instance, foreign-funded education and health projects in KP and Punjab prepare education & health budgets, they track those budgets and ensure timely expenditures. These projects prepare day to day presentations for the education secretaries and ministers and also help in meeting targets underlined in the Joint Review Framework of donors. In doing so, government servants leave their usual duties and assign their tasks and duties to consultants and the staff of these organizations. Usually, contractors implement such projects and employ senior military or bureaucratic professionals to manage relationships with the government and agencies who look after the activities of these organizations. There are also a number of INGOs which do not operate in Pakistan but work through local partners. Majority of such organizations work on gender and rights and often target war zones. For instance, one UK based organization, ‘Peace Direct-UK’ funds NGOs in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA to raise awareness among girls regarding harmful practices.The government instead of pinpointing INGOs should focus on its own institutions which are underperforming due to corruption, lack of ‘will’ for reforms and lack of interest in public service. These issues not only result in a waste of taxpayers money but also these underperforming institutions often contribute to misgovernance and mismanagement.Government counterparts of INGOs often take no interest in reforms but always welcome foreign visits and training in five-star hotels. The Government needs to ban such activities of its public servants and ensure all reforms or development discussions take place in Government offices. Instead of banning organizations, the government should focus on service delivery to eliminate injustice from the society and education of every child. Currently, there are more than 26 million kids who don’t go to schools and the Government has not taken a serious step to target these out of school children. Similarly, more than a million cases are pending in courts which result in more criminal cases.INGOs have a strong lobby in bilateral and multilateral organizations such as IMF, World Bank, and ADB, therefore, the government may find it difficult on both financial and diplomatic fronts if they chose to ban INGOs without a solid reason. Facilitating INGOs, the way the Government did after the earthquake in 2005, was highly appreciated by the international community. The only difference today and then was a dedicated coordination cell established under the earthquake ‘Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Authority’ (ERRA) which managed all INGOs and assigned them areas where they operate according to the needs of the time.The writer is a public policy commentator and communications professional. He can be contacted at Twitter: zia051 or email@example.comPublished in Daily Times, October 19th 2018.