NGO/NPO/Charities Registration in Pakistan

Understanding the evolving legal framework for not-for-profit organizations (NPOs) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Pakistan

Over the past five years, Pakistan has witnessed significant changes to the legal and regulatory landscape governing Not-for-Profit Organizations (NPOs) and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) operating within the country. These changes were primarily introduced in response to national security concerns and to ensure compliance with the anti-money laundering (AML) and countering financing of terrorism (CFT) standards set forth by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

On this page, we provide a comprehensive overview of the current legal regimes applicable to NPOs and NGOs registered and operating in Pakistan. We focus on the definition of NPOs and NGOs under relevant laws, explore the various entity structures available for establishing and operating these organizations, and examine the federal and provincial registration requirements applicable to non-profit entities.

In Pakistan, the terms NPO and NGO are used interchangeably. Generally, an NPO or NGO is an organization that operates with a primary purpose other than generating profits. Importantly, no part of the organization’s income is distributed to its members, directors, or officers.

The legal and regulatory developments in Pakistan’s NPO and NGO sector have been shaped by the need to uphold transparency, accountability, and compliance with international standards. As such, it is crucial for organizations in this sector to understand and adhere to the evolving legal requirements to ensure continued and effective operation within the country.

In Pakistan, Non-Profit Organizations (NPOs) and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) are required to be designated as non-profit entities at the time of their establishment, and they are limited to pursuing purposes allowed by their constitutional documents.

NPOs/NGOs/Charities can be registered in Pakistan under the following Legal Regimes :

(1) The Societies Registration Act 1860: NPOs and NGOs can be registered under the Societies Registration Act of 1860. This legal regime allows like-minded individuals to form an association with a common non-profit objective. Societies require a governing body or council to manage their affairs and must be registered with the relevant authorities.This has been discussed below in detail on this page.

(2)The Voluntary Social Welfare Agency (Registration & Control) Ordinance, 1961: Not-for-profit associations engaged in social welfare activities can be formed under this ordinance. Registration with the government is mandatory for these associations to operate lawfully.Social Welfare Agencies, also known as Voluntary Social Welfare Agencies, are organizations established with the primary purpose of providing social welfare services, including patient welfare and rehabilitation. These agencies are funded through public subscriptions, donations, or government aid.

The governance and oversight of Social Welfare Agencies lie with their Governing Body, which holds the ultimate control and management of the organization. There is no minimum required strength for the Governing Body, allowing flexibility in its composition. The Governing Body is responsible for ensuring compliance with reporting requirements mandated by the law.

In most provinces of Pakistan, Social Welfare Agencies are registered under the Voluntary Social Welfare Agencies (Registration and Control) Ordinance, 1961 (Ordinance XLVI of 1961), a federal enactment that has been adopted by the majority of provinces without significant amendments, and remains in effect. However, the province of Balochistan and the Capital Territory of Islamabad have their separate registration regimes. In Balochistan, Social Welfare Agencies are registered under the 2019 Balochistan Charities Registration Act, while in Islamabad, registration is governed by the Islamabad Capital Territory Charities Registration, Regulation, and Facilitation Act, 2021 (Act XXV of 2021).

As these laws may differ across regions, Social Welfare Agencies operating in Pakistan must be aware of and comply with the specific legislation applicable to their province or territory. Staying informed about the relevant laws ensures that these agencies can effectively fulfill their social welfare objectives while adhering to legal requirements.

(3) Provincial Trust Acts 2020 (formerly under the Trusts Act 1882): NPOs and NGOs may opt for a trust structure governed by the respective provincial Trust Acts (Punjab Trust Act 2020, Sindh Trust Act 2020, and ICT Trust Act 2020). Trusts provide a mechanism for individuals or entities to hold and manage property for specific charitable purposes, overseen by appointed trustees.Trusts have been discussed in detail on our Website at the Link Below.

Advice on the Law of Public and Private Trusts in Pakistan

(4) Companies Act 2017 (Section 42): Section 42 of the Companies Act 2017 offers the option of establishing a Section 42 company dedicated to promoting charitable activities. These companies are distinct from regular companies as they cannot distribute dividends to their members and must utilize their income solely for their charitable objectives.We have discussed Section 42 Companies on the Link Below.

Non-Profit Company Registration in Pakistan u/s 42 Companies Act 2017

The availability of multiple legal structures provides NPOs and NGOs with flexibility in choosing the most suitable entity type that aligns with their objectives and operational requirements. Understanding the nuances of each legal regime is crucial for NPOs and NGOs to make informed decisions regarding their legal status and compliance obligations in Pakistan.

Compulsory Provincial Registration

In Pakistan, charities operating within a specific province or territory are obligated to register with the relevant Charities Commission established by the Provincial Governments, including the Islamabad Capital Territory.

The Charities Commissions operate under separate legislation in each jurisdiction, comprising the Punjab Charities Registration Act, 2018 (Act V of 2018), the 2021 ICT Charities Registration Act, the Sindh Charities Registration and Regulation Act, 2019 (Act XVI of 2019), the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Charities Act, 2019 (Act XXIX of 2019), and the 2019 Balochistan Charities Registration Act. Despite being distinct statutes, each of these Acts contains substantially similar provisions to regulate the charitable sector consistently.

The definition of “charities” under the Charity Commission Acts is broad and includes any association of persons established for a charitable purpose. This encompasses organizations created under various laws, such as the 1961 Social Welfare Agencies Ordinance, the 1860 Societies Act, the 2017 Companies Act, and the 2020 Trusts Acts.

The primary functions of the Charities Commissions encompass maintaining public trust in charitable organizations, facilitating their registration, safeguarding their interests, ensuring adherence to regulatory requirements, and conducting inquiries into their operations. To commence activities within a specific province or territory, charities must register with the respective Charities Commission as mandated by the applicable law. Compliance with this registration process is crucial to operate legally and effectively fulfill their charitable objectives.

Federal Registration

Apart from the obligation to register with the respective provincial Charities Commissions, certain NPOs / NGOs are also required to undergo federal registration with the Government of Pakistan. This process involves registration through either the Economic Affairs Division (EAD) of the Ministry of Finance or the Ministry of Interior (MOI).

Federal registration is mandatory for specific NPOs / NGOs that intend to receive foreign contributions, including monetary funds, services, or goods, from sources outside Pakistan. To engage in such activities, these organizations must enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Economic Affairs Division as outlined in the framework provided by the Policy for NGOs / NPOs receiving Foreign Contributions – 2021.

To initiate the federal registration process, NPOs / NGOs must submit an application along with the required documents to the EAD. Subsequently, the EAD reviews the application, consults with relevant stakeholders, and makes a decision on its approval or rejection. If approved, the NPO / NGO enters into an MOU with the EAD, which remains valid for up to three (03) years and can be renewed for an additional period of two (02) years.

Federal registration ensures compliance with regulations regarding the receipt of foreign contributions, safeguarding transparency, and enhancing accountability for organizations engaged in such activities. By adhering to the federal requirements, NPOs / NGOs can effectively manage their cross-border engagements and fulfill their philanthropic objectives within the framework of the law.

Registration of Foreign NGOs/NPOs/Charities /INGOs (International NGOs) with the Ministry of Interior

The Ministry of Interior (MOI) oversees and regulates International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs) operating in Pakistan through the implementation of the Policy for Regulation of International Non-Governmental Organizations 2015 (the “2015 INGO Policy“). This policy governs the registration, functioning, funding, monitoring, and other related aspects pertaining to all types of INGOs operating within the country, including those that are not registered in Pakistan but are engaged in development programs and receiving foreign contributions.

INGOs that receive foreign contributions in the form of funds, materials, or services from sources outside Pakistan or utilize foreign economic assistance to carry out their activities must register with the MOI within ten (10) days of commencing their operations in the country. Upon approval, the INGO is required to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Government. The validity of the MOU is up to three (03) years, during which the INGO is granted certain privileges, including the establishment of headquarters and field offices, opening bank accounts, and hiring local employees.

However, INGOs are restricted from raising funds or receiving donations locally unless they have been specifically authorized to do so. The MOI holds the discretion to grant permission for an INGO to operate in Pakistan, and any breach of security or engagement in activities inconsistent with Pakistan’s national interests or contrary to government policy may result in the cancellation of registration and permission to operate.

The 2015 INGO Policy ensures that INGOs operating in Pakistan abide by the regulations set forth by the MOI, promoting transparency, accountability, and adherence to Pakistan’s national interests and policies. By registering and adhering to the terms of the MOU, INGOs can effectively carry out their humanitarian and development work within the framework of the country’s laws and regulations. We have discussed more about INGOs and Pakistan’s local law and policy at the following link:

A Legal Guide for INGOs Operating in Pakistan

Legal Alerts 2022 and 2023 (ongoing caution to INGOs): New 2022 Policy for Local NGOs/NPOs Receiving Foreign Funding

Josh and Mak International would like to inform its clients and stakeholders about the recent approval of the 2022 policy by the government of Pakistan to regulate and enhance the effectiveness of foreign funding received by Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and non-profit organizations (NPOs) registered in Pakistan.

Background: The government has taken significant steps in the past to regulate and monitor the functioning of local and foreign NGOs. During the tenure of Ch. Nisar Ali Khan as the Interior Minister from 2013 to 2017, NGOs were required to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Government. It was also decided that foreign organizations would not be allowed to fund local NGOs or collect funds in Pakistan without the government’s permission. This decision was made to address concerns regarding the questionable working practices of certain NGOs.

The Latest Policy: The newly approved policy in 2022 is a welcome addition to the existing framework as it provides a detailed procedure for signing the MoU and lays out the conditions under which the MoU may be terminated. The policy aims to create an enabling environment for NGOs/NPOs, facilitate legitimate financial resource mobilization from abroad, and encourage transparent and accountable financial practices.

See also  Media & Broadcasting Law and Regulation in Pakistan - An Overview

Conditions for MoU Termination: The MoU may be terminated under specific conditions, including involvement in activities that have implications for national security, religious intolerance, ethnic violence or hatred, money laundering, terror financing/activities, withdrawal of security clearance by a relevant agency, undertaking projects in restricted and prohibited areas without permission, and engaging in concealment of facts, submission of false information, forgery, or tampering.

Addressing Concerns: While commendable progress has been made in the past, there are still numerous NGOs engaged in objectionable and questionable activities. Some NGOs may be furthering foreign agendas through funding and collaboration with local partners. This raises concerns about their true motives and their impact on Pakistan’s ideological foundations and religious/cultural identity.

Call for Action: Josh and Mak International calls upon the Interior Ministry to continuously monitor and gather feedback from relevant agencies to identify NGOs/NPOs operating in violation of relevant laws. Codal action should be taken against those found engaging in such activities to safeguard national security and protect the interests of Pakistan.

Conclusion: The policy for local NGOs/NPOs receiving foreign funding is a significant step towards ensuring transparency and accountability in the NGO sector. It is essential to enforce this policy rigorously to weed out any organizations engaged in activities that could be detrimental to Pakistan’s interests. We remain committed to assisting our clients in navigating through the legalities of this policy and complying with all regulatory requirements.

Note: This legal alert is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Organizations seeking specific legal guidance on this policy should consult with our experienced team of lawyers at Josh and Mak International.

New Policy for Local NGOs/NPOs Receiving Foreign Contributions – 2022

Government of Pakistan MINISTRY OF ECONOMIC AFFAIRS Islamabad No. 2(2)NGO Policy I 2016 Islamabad, November & 2022


The undersigned is directed to refer to Cabinet Division Memorandum No. 883(Sy2022)Cab dated 11-11-2022 on the subject noted above and to convey that the following “Policy for Local NGOs/NPOs Receiving Foreign Contributions-2022” has been approved by the Federal Cabinet vide case No. 559/Rule-1912022 dated 11.11.2022.


This Policy is promulgated to regulate and enhance the effectiveness of foreign funding being received, availed, and utilized by the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and not-for-profit organizations (NPOs) registered in Pakistan.

1. Scope

In this Policy, NGOs and NPOs mean to include organizations engaged in public service, based on ethical, cultural, social, economic, political, philanthropic, or scientific and technological considerations and include charitable and support organizations, receiving foreign contributions only.

2. Characteristics

NGOs/NPOs should broadly have the following characteristics: a) They are private, i.e., separate from any government; b) They do not return profits generated to their owners or directors; c) They are self-governing, i.e., not controlled by any government; d) They are registered organizations with defined aims and objectives.

3. Objectives

The specific objectives of the Policy for NGOs/NPOs receiving Foreign Contributions are: (i) To create an enabling environment that stimulates their enterprise and effectiveness, and safeguards their autonomy; (ii) To enable them to legitimately mobilize necessary financial resources from abroad to Pakistan; (iii) To identify systems by which the Government may work together with them, based on the principles of mutual trust, respect, and shared responsibility; (iv) To encourage them to adopt a transparent and accountable system of accounting, governance, and management; (v) To facilitate their contribution towards socio-economic development of Pakistan within the ambit of relevant national policies and laws.

4. Short Title, Extent, and Application

This Policy shall: (a) Be called ‘Policy for local NGOs/NPOs receiving Foreign Contributions-2022’; (b) Extend to the whole of Pakistan; (c) Apply to all NGOs/NPOs registered/incorporated anywhere in Pakistan receiving foreign contributions; (d) Apply to Non-profit organizations established by the federal or provincial governments or other organizations receiving foreign contributions; (e) Come into force on such day and date as notified in the Official Gazette; (f) Supersede all previous policies, instructions, and clarifications of the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MoEA), on the above-mentioned subject.

5. Exclusions from Policy

(a) Individual contributions by Pakistani Diaspora shall not be subject to this policy; (b) Statutory bodies and organizations established through a federal or a provincial law; (c) Universities/colleges established by the Federal or a Provincial government or chartered by them; (d) NGOs/NPOs who do not seek direct or indirect foreign contribution from foreign donors.

6. Prerequisites for submission of application

(a) Is registered as a non-profit organization/non-governmental organization in Pakistan; (b) Letter of commitment from a foreign donor; (c) Preferably having at least one-year work experience in the relevant field; (d) Annual Work Plan for projects to be undertaken; (e) Active Tax Payer with the Federal Board of Revenue. (f) Has paid processing fee (to be notified by MoEA later)

7. Submission

(a) An application for signing of MOU with MoEA shall be received and processed only through the online NGO Portal; (b) Non-profit organizations established by government(s) may avail foreign contributions either by following the procedure as mentioned above or seek registration under this policy; (c) Application shall be submitted to MoEA at least 60 days prior to the commencement of foreign-funded project(s); (d) All applications shall be scrutinized by an authorized officer of MoEA; (e) Applications deficient in any material aspect shall not be entertained and as such be returned for re-submission if desired; (f) On provisional clearance from security agencies, MoU will be signed for six (6) months, further extendable for period(s) not exceeding 30 months in case no adverse report is received from the agencies; (g) Applications complete in all aspects shall be acknowledged by the authorized officer through the online portal; (h) After acknowledgement, the authorized officer of MoEA shall forward applications to relevant stakeholders for views/comments on the same date via NGOs-Portal; (i) Views/comments of stakeholders shall reach MoEA within 45 days from the date MoEA forwards the application of NGO; (j) Any stakeholder may request for additional time not exceeding 15 days for processing; (k) In case no comments are received from a stakeholder within 45 days, it shall deem to be approved unless additional time (15 days) request is made by the concerned stakeholder; (l) In any case, the processing time shall not exceed 60 days from the receipt of acknowledgement.

8. Approving Authority

(a) Based on recommendations of the stakeholders, an authorized officer of MoEA, not below the rank of BS-21, shall approve or reject the request of NGOs/NPOs receiving foreign contributions for MOU with MoEA; (b) The MoUs approved shall be signed by the said authorized officer of MoEA.

9. Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)

(a) MoU with MoEA is only to the extent of specific project(s); (b) MOU will contain information as specified by the MoEA, including amongst others, the work plan, geographical areas of project and information with respect to the source of financing; (c) MOU will be valid for a period up to 3 years from the date of signing; (d) NGO shall submit an online application for renewal of MOU 60 days prior to the expiry of MOU; (e) Renewal of MOU is meant to cover time extension for the same project, having the same donor, scope, location, and thematic area; (f) The cases of renewal of MOU (at serial e) shall be decided at the level of an authorized officer of MoEA, not below the rank of BS-21; (g) The period of renewal shall not be more than 2 years; (h) NGO shall submit any additional projects to be undertaken through the e-portal for approval; (i) Applications of any additional projects, complete in all aspects, shall be acknowledged by the authorized officer through the online portal; (j) After acknowledgement, the authorized officer of MoEA shall forward applications to relevant stakeholders for views/comments on the same date via NGOs-Portal; (k) Views/comments of stakeholders in case of additional projects shall reach MoEA within 30 days from the date MoEA forwards the application of NGO; (l) In case no comments are received from a stakeholder within 30 days, it shall deem to be approved. (m) The MOUs already signed/cleared under the previous policy shall be valid till the expiry of such MoUs.

10. Monitoring and Evaluation 

(a) NGOs/NPOs shall: (i) Submit to MoEA an annual report of its projects; (ii) Have its accounts audited from a well-reputed and registered audit firm and submit the audit report to MoEA through the NGO portal; (iii) Submit a project completion report on the NGO portal of MoEA; (iv) Not use any other bank account except the designated account(s) intimated to MoEA at the time of application; (v) In case of any adverse report from any stakeholder, MoEA may issue a show cause notice to the concerned organization. If the response is not satisfactory, a special audit may be initiated by MoEA in coordination with relevant registering authority/concerned charity commission.

11. Suspension/Termination of MoU

MoU shall be terminated if NGOs/NPOs receiving foreign contributions: (a) Violate any or all provisions of this Policy; (b) Engage in activities having implications for national security; (c) Promote religious intolerance, ethnic violence, or hatred; (d) Involve themselves in money laundering, terror financing/activities; (e) Withdrawal of security clearance by a relevant agency, reasons to be intimated to the concerned; (f) Undertake any project in restricted and prohibited areas without permission; (g) Involve themselves in concealment of facts, submission of false information, forgery, tampering, etc.

12. Redressal of Grievance

(a) NGO/NPO may file a grievance petition against any decision of MoEA within 15 days before the Grievance Committee; (b) Grievance Committee shall be headed by the Secretary MoEA and comprising members from MOI, MOFA, and Law Division; (c) The quorum of the Grievance Committee shall be 50 per cent of total membership; (d) The Grievance Committee shall decide the grievance within a period of 30 days from the date of receipt of the grievance; (e) The decision of the Grievance Committee shall be final.

13. Prohibitions

NGOs/NPOs, subject to law, shall not: (a) Submit false information to MoEA at any stage of the application; (b) Seek MOU with MoEA by means of fraud, false representation, or concealment of facts; (c) Engage in activities having implications for national security or promote religious intolerance & hatred and ethnic violence; (d) Commence physical activity on foreign funded projects prior to approval and signing of MOU with MoEA; (e) Involve in money laundering, terror financing/activities; (f) Employ foreign nationals without prior security clearance; (g) Involve in forgery, tampering of documents, corruption; (h) Employ any person(s) or in any capacity having links with persons who are fugitives, convicts, or absconders or wanted by law enforcement agencies; (i) Allow its employees and staff members to engage in anti-state activities.

See also  Competitive Bid Writing and Bid Management

14. Obligations

NGOs/NPOs shall: (a) Submit accurate details of foreign contributions received from foreign donors; (b) Maintain local bank accounts in Pakistan in the name of NGOs/NPOs duly intimated to MoEA, for the purpose of project/organization-related transactions; (c) Inform MoEA immediately of any change in bank accounts; (d) Make all payments through proper banking channels as per section 21(1) of Income Tax Ordinance 2001 amended up to 30.06.2022 or as revised or amended by the Federal Board of Revenue from time to time; (e) Submit complete details of third-party contractors, service providers, including foreign consultants, and details of payment made; (f) Seek prior written permission for the visit of foreign staff to restricted/prohibited areas; (g) Make full disclosure to MoEA of any information as and when required.

15. Miscellaneous

(a) NGOs/NPOs that enter into MoU with MoEA, after due security clearance by relevant authorities, shall not be required to obtain further NOCs or permissions for approved projects from any other federal, provincial, or local authority; (b) Special permissions/NOCs from relevant authorities will be required for security-sensitive/restricted areas; (c) NGOs/NPOs can seek foreign contributions from all foreign donors except those banned/regretted/blacklisted by the Government of Pakistan; (d) All relevant stakeholders and agencies must concur within their specific mandate; (e) This Policy may be revised/modified from time to time in consultation with concerned stakeholders.

16. Exemption from MoU

(a) If the Economic Affairs Division is of the opinion that it is in the public interest (such as in situations of disasters and emergencies at the national or local level), it may, subject to such conditions as it may specify, exempt an organization or class of organizations from all or any of the provisions of this Policy for a period not exceeding six months; (b) The power of exemption shall be exercised by the Minister in-charge of the Ministry of Economic Affairs; (c) Subject to compelling circumstances, the period of exemption can be extended for another six months by the Minister-in-charge of the Ministry of Economic Affairs.

As agreed by all provinces being processing end users of NGOs portal, having access to project details of all concerned through EAD portal.

(End of Legal Alert)

Updated (2023)

Ministry of Interior’s NGOs Visa Policy for Expatriates

Short Term Visa: Embassies have the authority to grant short-term visas for one month to expatriates who are working with Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) in Pakistan.

Long Term Visa: For long-term visas, the NGO must be registered with the Government of Pakistan. In such cases, the mission abroad handling visa applications refers them to the Ministry of Interior for prior clearance before granting visas.

Visa Extension: If an extension of visa is required, registered NGOs can directly apply to the Ministry of Interior. The Ministry of Interior, upon review and verification of all formalities, authorizes the concerned Regional Passport Offices (RPOs) to grant the extension of visa.

Please note that the Ministry of Interior plays a significant role in overseeing and regulating the visa process for NGOs operating in Pakistan. For short-term visas, the embassies have the authority to issue them directly. However, for long-term visas and visa extensions, the Ministry of Interior’s involvement is necessary, especially for registered NGOs.

For further information or any updates to this policy, NGOs and relevant stakeholders are advised to consult the Ministry of Interior or official government sources.

Ministry of Interior, Government of Pakistan

********End of NGOs Visa Policy Advisory*******


Important Notice regarding NGO/NPO/CHARITIES Registered in Punjab, Pakistan under the Societies Registration Act, 1860

If your organization is currently registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 in Punjab it is essential to be aware that the deadline for re-registering under the Punjab Charities Act, 2018 has passed, and the Punjab Charities Commission has initiated legal action against non-compliant organizations in Punjab.

For new organizations seeking to register as charities in Pakistan, the initial step is to register under the Societies Registration Act, 1860. Subsequently, you must approach the local Charity commission in your respective province for re-registration under the Punjab Charities Act, 2018, as discussed above.

If you require guidance or assistance with the registration process, please feel free to get in touch with us. When making your inquiry, kindly specify the exact province where you wish to register.

For more information or to initiate the registration process for your society under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 in Pakistan, you can contact us at or simply click on the Whatsapp button on our website. Josh and Mak International offer specialized services for NGO/NPO registration and provide comprehensive legal consultancy tailored to meet your specific requirements.

Update (2022) Legal Alert: Status of Petition against Sindh’s Charities Registration Law (as of 2023 this Petition is still Pending at the Sindh High Court.

Date: April 20, 2022

The Sindh High Court has issued notices to the Attorney General, the Advocate General of Sindh, and other relevant parties in response to petitions filed by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) against the Charities Registration and Regulation Law of 2019 introduced in the province.

The court acknowledged that the petitions raised significant concerns, including the capacity of the province to legislate on interprovincial issues, potential violations of articles 17 and 18 of the constitution pertaining to the right of freedom of association and trade, as well as the validity (vires) of the act itself.

The court directed the petitioners  to proceed with the petitions as all necessary comments had been filed. The court also issued intimation notices to the Attorney General and the Advocate General of Sindh to assist the court in addressing the challenges to specific sections of the act.

The Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research and other NGOs, the petitioners, argue that the Sindh Charities Registration and Regulation Act 2019 was introduced by the provincial government to register NGOs and monitor their funding.The  petitioners, contended that the impugned act was designed to curtail civil society’s welfare activities and gain control over their financial resources, which he viewed as a violation of constitutional rights and international obligations.

They further argue that the legislation went beyond what was constitutionally permissible and aimed not only to regulate but also to incapacitate and debilitate NGOs, ultimately undermining the social welfare system.

The legislation also included provisions for summary trials against NGOs, with penalties ranging from six months to one year for fraud and tampering with charity fund records.The petitioners assert that the law’s intention was to eliminate, ban, or suspend all NGOs operating at different levels in Pakistan, hindering their charitable work and leaving serious obstacles in their path.The petitioners also contested the NGO Policy of 2013, issued by the federal government, claiming that it imposed oppressive conditions on civil society and NGOs, obstructing their charitable work in various fields.

In their plea, the petitioners requested the court to declare the Sindh Charities Registration and Regulation Act 2019 as ultra vires and in violation of fundamental rights enshrined in the constitution. They specifically sought to strike down sections 3, 9, 22, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, and 29 of the law, which they considered oppressive and discriminatory.

Additionally, the petitioners sought an injunction against the Economic Affairs Division, requesting the court to declare that the federal government had no statutory backing or locus standi to frame, regulate, and enact rules titled as the NGOs Policy 2013. They asked to suspend the implementation of the policy until a decision is reached on the petition.

The case remains under review by the Sindh High Court, and relevant authorities and stakeholders are advised to closely monitor the developments in this matter.

Josh and Mak International will continue to provide updates on this important legal issue as it unfolds. For further details or inquiries, please reach out to our legal team.

**************End of Legal Alert******************

Legal Alert (2022): Sindh High Court Proceedings on Charities Registration Legislation

The provincial social welfare department has revealed that the legislation regarding charities registration in Sindh was enacted based on the advice of the interior ministry to meet the requirements of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). The purpose was to establish a uniform mechanism for the registration, regulation, and administration of charities’ fund collection and utilization. Similar enactments have been made in other provinces to combat money laundering and prevent charitable funds’ utilization for terror financing.

In response to petitions challenging the Sindh Charities Registration and Regulation Act, 2019, the social welfare department clarified that the law aims to ensure transparency in the collection and utilization of charitable funds for both international and local NGOs. The act provides a one-window facility for all charities to address legalities and maintain transparency in funds received from national and international donors.

Prior to this legislation, NGOs were registered under multiple laws, lacking a proper mechanism for monitoring and evaluation, which resulted in dual regulations and benefits for such organizations. The establishment of the charity commission by the social welfare department follows government policies, aimed at regulating and controlling NGOs and voluntary agencies to prevent misuse of charitable funds.

The department had requested all NGOs through leading newspapers to submit performance and audit reports, along with election proceedings, and renew their registration as per regulations. However, some NGOs failed to comply, neither submitting the required documents nor contacting the department.

The Sindh High Court, has consolidated the identical petitions for joint hearing on Feb 2. The interim order protecting the petitioners from adverse actions will continue until the next hearing.

In a previous hearing, the Economic Affairs Division (EAD) stated that the NGOs Policy 2013 was formulated to ensure the effectiveness of foreign aid channeled through NGOs while preserving national interests. The EAD circulated NGOs’ documents among stakeholders, including security agencies, for clearance before signing memorandums of understanding with NGOs.

The petitions, filed by the Indus Hospital & Health Network, civil society organizations, and NGOs, challenge the constitutionality of the act, claiming it violates fundamental rights and can be used to oppress and discriminate. The petitioners seek the court’s declaration that EAD has no statutory backing or authority to frame, regulate, and enact the rules of the NGOs Policy, 2013.

NGOs and charitable organizations operating in Sindh are advised to closely monitor the proceedings of this case and consult legal experts to ensure compliance with relevant regulations. Any changes to the legislation may impact their operations and registration requirements

Legal Update (2019) : Provincial Registration with Charities Commissions for societies registered under the Registration of Societies Act 1860 is now mandatory. Provincial Governments, including the Islamabad Capital Territory, have implemented regulations requiring charities operating within a specific province/territory to register with the relevant charities’ commissions (the “Commissions”).

The establishment of the Commissions has been carried out through separate enactments such as the Punjab Charities Registration Act, 2018 (Act V of 2018), the 2021 ICT Charities Registration Act, the Sindh Charities Registration and Regulation Act, 2019 (Act XVI of 2019), the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Charities Act, 2019 (Act XXIX of 2019), and the 2019 Balochistan Charities Registration Act (collectively referred to as the “Charities Commission Acts”). These Acts share substantially similar provisions.

See also  Shia Law of Inheritance: Insights from Court Judgments

The term “charities” is broadly defined under the Charities Commission Acts, encompassing associations of individuals established for charitable purposes, includingNGO  organizations formed under the Societies Registration Act 1860.

Apart from provincial registration, specific Non-Profit Organizations (NPOs) or Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) are legally required to register with the Federal Government of Pakistan through the Economic Affairs Division (EAD) of the Ministry of Finance or the Ministry of Interior (MOI).

For NGOs/NPOs in Pakistan seeking to receive foreign contributions (including money, services, and goods from foreign sources), they must first enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the EAD, as outlined in the 2021 Policy for NGOs/NPOs receiving Foreign Contributions.

Under the 2021 NGO Policy, along with the execution of the MOU, an application for registration and the necessary supporting documents must be submitted to the EAD. The EAD then conducts a thorough examination of the application and consults with relevant stakeholders. Based on these evaluations, the EAD may either approve or reject the application. In the case of approval, an MOU is executed with the NPO/NGO, valid for up to three (03) years and renewable for an additional period of two (02) years.

As of 2023, it is crucial for charitable organizations operating in Pakistan under the regime of the Societies Registration Act 1860 to comply with both provincial and federal registration requirements to maintain legal standing and facilitate their operations within the country.

The Societies Registration Act 1860

The Societies Registration Act is designed to enhance the legal status and functioning of societies engaged in various beneficial activities, such as promoting literature, science, arts, useful knowledge, and charitable causes. The Act outlines the procedures for forming and registering societies, as well as their governance, dissolution, and legal responsibilities. It also introduces provisions to regulate Deeni Madaris (religious institutions) and ensure responsible educational practices.

Formation and Registration of Societies: Any seven or more individuals with a common interest in literary, scientific, charitable, or educational endeavors may form a society by subscribing their names to a memorandum of association. This memorandum must include the society’s name, objectives, and details of the governing body responsible for managing its affairs. Upon filing the memorandum with the Registrar of Joint-stock Companies, the society becomes officially registered.

Annual Reporting and Governance: Registered societies must annually submit a list of their current governing body to the Registrar. The Act vests the property of the society in the governing body, allowing them to act on its behalf. Legal proceedings involving the society can be conducted in the name of its president, chairman, principal secretary, or trustees, as designated by the society’s rules.

Recovery of Penalties and Disputes: The Act permits societies to recover penalties for any breach of their rules or bye-laws through court proceedings. In case of disputes among the governing body or members of the society, the principal Court of original civil jurisdiction of the district where the society’s main building is located will settle the matter.

Alteration of Society’s Purpose and Dissolution: Societies may propose alterations to their objectives, amalgamation with other societies, or partial or complete dissolution. Such proposals require approval from the majority of society members and confirmation through a second special meeting after one month. In case of dissolution, the society’s property must not be distributed among members but rather transferred to another society, as determined by a three-fifths majority vote.

Regulation of Deeni Madaris: The Act includes provisions to regulate Deeni Madaris (religious institutions) to ensure responsible educational practices. All Deeni Madaris must register themselves and submit annual educational reports and audit reports to the Registrar. They are prohibited from promoting militancy, sectarianism, or religious hatred, but they are allowed to study various religions, schools of thought, and subjects covered by the Holy Quran, Sunnah, or Islamic jurisprudence.

Q1. What are the permissible purposes for forming societies in Pakistan according to the Societies Registration Act, 1860?

A. Under the Societies Registration Act, 1860, societies can be registered for various purposes, including granting charitable assistance, promoting science, literature, and the fine arts, providing instruction, diffusing useful knowledge, spreading political education, establishing or maintaining libraries, reading rooms, public museums, galleries of paintings and other art works, collections of natural history, mechanical and philosophical inventions, instruments, or designs.

Q2. Who is eligible to form a society or charitable organization in Pakistan?

A. Any group of seven or more individuals associated with literary, scientific, charitable, or any other purpose described in section 20 of the Societies Registration Act can form a society. To do so, they need to subscribe their names to a memorandum of association and file it with the Registrar of Joint Stock Companies as per the Act’s provisions.

Q3. What is the process for dissolving a society in Pakistan?

A. A society can be dissolved by its members through a resolution, by the Registrar, by the Government, or by the Court. The dissolution process involves taking necessary steps for the disposal and settlement of the society’s property, claims, and liabilities, according to the rules applicable to the society or as determined by the governing body.

Q4. Who holds the authority to sign documents on behalf of a registered society?

A. All documents of a registered society, filed with the Registrar, should be signed by the President/Chairman, the Secretary, or any other person specifically authorized by the governing body for this purpose.

Q5. What are the disqualification criteria for a member of a society?

A. A member of a society may be disqualified if they are an undercharged insolvent, have been convicted of any offense related to the formation, promotion, management, or conduct of the society or any other body corporate, or if they have been convicted of an offense involving moral turpitude.

Q. What is the quorum required for a meeting of a society, and how is it determined?

A. The term “quorum” refers to the minimum number of members who must be present at a meeting to make the proceedings valid. The specific quorum required for different meetings is specified in the bye-laws of the organization. If the required quorum is not met, the meeting is typically adjourned, as outlined in the society’s bye-laws.

Q. What considerations should be taken into account when proposing a name for a society?

A. When proposing a name for a society, it is essential to ensure that the name does not imply any association with the Government of Islamic Republic of Pakistan or any government office. Additionally, the proposed name should not be identical to the name of any other registered society. Furthermore, the name of the society should not suggest obscenity or go against decency and decorum.

Q. Can a registered society make amendments to its rules & regulations and memorandum under the Societies Registration Act, 1860?

A. Yes, a registered society has the authority to make amendments to both its rules & regulations and memorandum. To do so, the society needs to submit an application bearing the signature of either the General Secretary or the President. The proposed amendments must be approved by the Registrar of Society in accordance with the bye-laws of the society.

Q. Is it permissible to appoint foreigners as Executive Committee members in a society?

A. While the Societies Registration Act, 1860 does not explicitly prohibit the appointment of foreign nationals as Executive Committee members, it is generally discouraged. The decision to appoint foreigners as committee members is at the discretion of the society and its governing body.

Q. What financial records must be maintained by a society?

A. A society is typically required to maintain several financial records, including cash books and bank books, which provide details of daily receipts and expenses. Additionally, the society should maintain voucher files, ledgers, and receipt books to ensure proper documentation of financial transactions and expenditures. These financial records play a crucial role in maintaining transparency and accountability within the society’s financial management.

Q: What is the Societies Registration Act, 1860, and how does it apply to registering a society in Pakistan?

A: The Societies Registration Act, 1860 provides the legal framework for registering societies engaged in literary, scientific, charitable, educational, and other beneficial activities.

Q: What are the permissible purposes for forming a society under this Act?

A: Societies can be registered for various purposes, including charitable assistance, promotion of science, literature, arts, instruction, dissemination of useful knowledge, political education, and the establishment or maintenance of libraries, museums, and art collections.

Q: Is a society automatically tax-exempt after registration?

A: No, registration under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 does not grant automatic tax-exempt status. To become tax-exempt, the society must fulfill certain requirements and apply separately to the Commissioner of Income Tax for approval.

Q: Can a society amend its rules, regulations, or memorandum?

A: Yes, a registered society can make amendments to its rules, regulations, or memorandum by submitting an application bearing the signature of the General Secretary or President. The amendments must be approved by the Registrar of Societies as per the bye-laws.

Q: Can foreigners serve as Executive Committee members in a society?

A: While there is no legal bar, foreign nationals are generally discouraged from being appointed as members of the Executive Committee. However, the decision ultimately lies with the society and its governing body.

 Is an NGO/NPO or any charitable organization registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 in Pakistan considered tax-exempt?

A. No, being registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 does not automatically grant tax-exempt status to an NGO/NPO or charitable organization. To obtain tax exemption, the organization must fulfill specific requirements and apply separately to the Commissioner of Income Tax for approval. Tax exemption for NGOs is not an automatic benefit of registration and must be sought independently.

Josh and Mak International offer specialized services to register NGOs/NPOs in various sectors such as Health Care, Education, Humanitarian Development, Child Protection, Religious Education, and more. They also provide legal advice and guidance on all matters related to NGO/NPO registration for both local and foreign individuals, firms, and companies. For detailed legal consultancy and assistance with NGO registration and tax-exempt status applications, you can contact Josh and Mak International.

The Societies Registration Act provides a legal framework to promote literature, science, arts, useful knowledge, and charitable causes through registered societies. It ensures transparency, accountability, and responsible practices in the governance of these societies, while also regulating Deeni Madaris to foster responsible religious education. For individuals and organizations seeking to create or be part of societies engaged in these purposes, compliance with the Act and connected recent legislation is essential for official recognition and protection under the law.

By The Josh and Mak Team

Josh and Mak International is a distinguished law firm with a rich legacy that sets us apart in the legal profession. With years of experience and expertise, we have earned a reputation as a trusted and reputable name in the field. Our firm is built on the pillars of professionalism, integrity, and an unwavering commitment to providing excellent legal services. We have a profound understanding of the law and its complexities, enabling us to deliver tailored legal solutions to meet the unique needs of each client. As a virtual law firm, we offer affordable, high-quality legal advice delivered with the same dedication and work ethic as traditional firms. Choose Josh and Mak International as your legal partner and gain an unfair strategic advantage over your competitors.

error: Content is Copyright protected !!