Pakistan: Removal from Open Government Partnership another sign of the repressive civic space environment

CIVICUS, the global civil society alliance, is appalled by the Pakistani government’s failure to keep its commitments to the Open Government Partnership (OGP), which has led to its removal.

 

These actions highlight a government that continuously ignores its international obligations and that continues to undermine fundamental freedoms in the country.

The OGP is a multilateral initiative that aims to secure concrete commitments from national and sub-national governments to promote open government, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. Seventy-seven countries and seventy-six local governments — representing more than two billion people — along with thousands of civil society organisations are members of the OGP. The OGP is a multilateral initiative that aims to secure concrete commitments from national and sub-national governments to promote open government, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. Seventy-seven countries and seventy-six local governments — representing more than two billion people — along with thousands of civil society organisations are members of the OGP.

Pakistan was removed as a member of the OGP as of 5 March 2022, following the resolution of the OGP Steering Committee on 25 February 2020 to designate Pakistan as inactive due to its failure to deliver an action plan since joining the Partnership in 2016.

“The failure of the Pakistani government to deliver an action plan since it joined the OGP displays its lack of commitment to ensure an enabling environment that guarantees transparency, good governance and for citizens to access information and engage with the government. These are critical elements in a democracy, which Pakistan claims to be,” said Josef Benedict, CIVICUS Asia Pacific Researcher

This removal highlights a broader trend of attacks on fundamental freedom under the Imran Khan government. Pakistan is currently rated as ‘repressed’ by the CIVICUS Monitor, a global research collaboration that rates and tracks fundamental freedoms in 197 countries and territories.

Human rights defenders and critics are being harassed and criminalised in unfair trials. Among them include human rights defenders Idris Khattak and Muhamad Ismail. Women human rights defenders are frequently subject to reprisals, harassment and threats, especially those involved in the ‘Aurat March’, a march held yearly in towns and cities across Pakistan to mark International Women’s Day. The government has shut down numerous civil society organisations under the guise of combating terrorism, money laundering or for promotion of an ‘anti-state’ agenda.

Press freedom in Pakistan continues to deteriorate, journalists have been harassed and criminalised, and there has been a systematic crackdown against the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM).

Enforced disappearances targeting human rights defenders, political activists, students, journalists and others have continued relentlessly under the Imran Khan administration.

“We urge the authorities to drop all charges against human rights defenders and activists and take steps to ensure that they can carry out their legitimate activities without fear of reprisals. The government must also ensure freedom of expression and media freedom, both online and offline, by aligning all national legislation with international law,” said Benedict


CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation is a global alliance of civil society organisations (CSOs) and activists dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society around the world. Founded in 1993, CIVICUS has more than 10,000 members in more than 175 countries throughout the world.