Pak asks International Republican Institute to wind up its operations

March 8th, 2009 - 4:01 pm ICT by ANI  

Benazir Bhutto

Islamabad, Mar 8 (ANI): The Pakistan Government has asked the International Republican Institute (IRI) to wind up its operations from the country, and declined its request to establish an office.

The IRI, which conducts surveys on political issues globally, made headlines in Pakistan in October 2008 after it released a public opinion survey saying President Asif Ali Zardaris approval rating had come down to a mere 19 per cent while 63 per cent of the respondents disapproved of his performance as president.

The copy of the correspondence between the IRI and Pakistan Government revealed that the IRI approached the government through the Ministry of Economic Affairs for permission to establish its Pakistan office.

The documents show IRI has been pursuing the ministry since 2007 for permission to establish its Pakistan chapter, The Dawn reported.

However, the ministry, through letter No 4(38) NGO/2002 dated January 29 informed the IRIs country director, Robert Varsalone, that its registration application had been rejected owing to administrative reasons.

In the same letter, the ministry told the IRI that it was allowed to operate in Pakistan only to monitor last years general election.

The ministry goes on to tell the IRI to halt its operations and activities in Pakistan under intimation to the Economic Affairs Division.

Sources told Dawn that Country Director Robert Varsalone had left for Iraq following former PPP chairperson Benazir Bhuttos assassination, leaving behind junior staff in its Islamabad office.

Some PPP sources said the slain party chairperson was closely involved with the IRI and persuaded it to carry out a poll on Pervez Musharraf.

These sources said the IRI had annoyed the former president through its opinion polls. (ANI)

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