PESHAWAR: The government has directed Medicines Sans Frontier (MSF) also known as Doctors Without Borders to halt its activities and operations throughout Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA).
Sources in FATA Secretariat Peshawar informed Pakistan Today that MSF was directed to wind off its belongings in FATA within one week. At present, the MSF is very active in Kurram Agency, adjacent to Afghanistan’s troubled eastern region, especially Nangarhar province.
The official concerned was unable to point out the reason behind this move. Officials in political administration at Parachinar, headquarter of Kurram Agency, confirmed the reports regarding the closing of MSF activities, offices and clinics in the area. However, they too were unaware of the reasons behind these directives.
Earlier, the government through the interior ministry had issued a directive which bound almost all foreign funded non-government organisations and its affiliated local partners to get a no objection certificates (NOC) to operate in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and its adjoining tribal area.
Time and again in recent past, members of civil society organisations, especially human rights activists from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA denounced such policies of the government. Zar Ali Khan Afridi, chairman of the Tribal NGO Consortium, said that there is visible discrimination in this particular NOC criteria. The procedure is very simple and easy for all NGOs working in Punjab, Sindh and other parts of the country, but it is being made too hard for the organisations that intend to work in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA, he remarked, adding that on such grounds these NGOs will have no option to shift their operations to Punjab and other provinces of the country.
The MSF is a France-based group, engaged in Medical relief activities in war, violence, and hostilities affected countries throughout the world. In Pakistan, the MSF has been providing its services to the affectees from government run hospitals and clinics since a long time. In certain regions, which lack health caring institutions, the MSF establishes make shifts or mobile health units.
For several times in the past, the organisation’s operations throughout the region, including the Middle East, were affected due to various reasons, one of them being caught in the crossfire. A few years back, its hospital in Khanabad, headquarter of Afghanistan’s Kundoz province, became a target of an allied airstrike which injured a large number of hospital staff and patients and also resulted in death of the some.