KARACHI: Representatives of the civil society, human, labour and women rights organizations on Tuesday expressed serious concern over a campaign in a section of the media against a civil society organization, Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER), branding it as an “Indian agent”.
In a joint statement after a meeting at the office of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) Karachi, the activists from the civil society organizations said the media campaign against an NGO cannot be seen in isolation. It is a continuation of the on-going onslaught against the civil society organizations in Pakistan, especially those, which are working for people’s rights.
They said that the media reporting in a section of media is referring an alleged FBR report against PILER. However, the organization has never been contacted by FBR or any other agency. They said that PILER is registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) as Not-for-Profit Company under the Companies Ordinance 1984 and if there were any concerns, then those would have been raised through SECP.
The organizations condemned such character assassination campaign against a rights-based NGO” and said that “it is illegal and immoral to launch a media trial against a reputable NGO.”
They said if there was any allegation or charges against any NGO a legal action can be initiated under the relevant laws. They said that the civil society organizations believe that the government is taking steps against all those NGOs that are working for rights of common people, peace in the South Asian region.
Quoting that “PILER is an old organization working for workers’ rights since 1982 and allegations like working for India is an attempt to tarnish its image in the labour community and civil society.”
The meeting decided to form an action committee, comprising of leading civil society organizations to hold meetings with the relevant government and media organizations to explain the situation. The participants also decided to file individual complaints with the Council of Complaints of PEMRA against the TV Channel that have shown a concocted report quoting an intelligence report by Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).
Other senior trade union leaders and coordinator of Sindh Labour Solidarity Committee Habibuddin Junaidi, Asad Iqbal Butt of HRCP, Zahid Farooq of Urban Resource Centre, Saleha Athar of Network for Women Rights, Raheema Pahnwar of SPO, Malika Khan of Aurat Foundation, Qamarul Hassan of IUF, Karamat Ali, Zeenat Hissam, Zulfiqar Shah, Sharafat Ali of PILER, Farhat Parveen of NOW Communities, Suleman G. Abro of SAFWCO, Mir Zulfiqar Ali of WERO, senior journalist Muqtida Mansoor Khan, Salam Dharejo of TDH, Rasheed Gil of Justice and Peace Commission, Yousuf Khattak of CLR, Hassan Athar of Asian Human Rights Commission, M. Ayoub Qureshi of PTUF, Naghma Iqtidar of NWR, Mehboobur Rehman of WAPDA Union, Javed Baig of OPP-OCT, Ms. Rafia Gulani of SDWO, Ishak Soomro of TCO, Adam Malik of PIPFPD, Momin Khan Momin were present on the occasion.