Religious targeting cited as Trócaire exile from Pakistan looms

Religious targeting cited as Trócaire exile from Pakistan looms MEP Mairead McGuinness

The government of Pakistan’s deadline for Trócaire to cease operations is just weeks away, with an Irish Member of European Parliament saying it may be that “faith-based organisations are being targeted”.

Pakistan’s government sent a letter to Church-charity Trócaire along with 16 other charitable agencies last month asking them to leave the country.

The letter outlined they had 60 days to stop operations in Pakistan and provides an opportunity to re-apply for registration, but only after six months.

MEP Mairead McGuinness told The Irish Catholic: “It is difficult to know what is behind Pakistan’s request because their Government has not provided any reason or justification.

“It may be that faith-based organisations are being targeted. If so, that would be very concerning because these organisations are among the largest and most efficient humanitarian and development aid providers worldwide.”

She described the government decision as “disturbing”.

Appeal

Trócaire have 19 staff based in the country, 18 of them being locals while one person is from the UK. They are currently liaising with the Department of Foreign Affairs and have appealed the decision but have not heard back yet.

“In the case of Trocaire, I understand their programmes in Pakistan directly benefited more than 120,000 people last year, as well as indirectly benefitting 1.3 million people, with a country budget of €4.1 million,” Ms McGuinness said.

“Given the religious make-up of Pakistan, the overwhelming majority of this aid would have benefited Muslims,” she added.

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