According to official statements, Save the Children, the international aid agency, has been ordered to leave Pakistan and completely shut down its operations on the country’s territory.
The Pakistan’s government has accused the organization of “working against the country,” so police and government officials paid a visit at the charity’s office in Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital. The after-hours rendezvous ended in the compound being put on lockdown.
Senior government official Kamran Cheema explained that the sealing of the Save the Children’ office was done based on government instructions. He commented that he has yet to be informed about the reasons that led to this operation.
However, he stated his position was strongly against running the international organization out the country, and that he is questioning authorities about the orders.
Even though the government hasn’t yet issued any formal statement regarding this event, an official form inside the ministry said that anti-Pakistan operations were being conducted within the organization.
The only evidence that this is ordered by the government is a notification saying the office needed to be sealed, and all the staff be expatriated to their countries in the next 15 days.
The ministry official, who wished to remain anonymous for obvious reasons, said that Save the Children has been under governmental scrutiny for a while now, and they were found to act against Pakistan’s interest.
A police officer was ordered to stand guard outside the charity’s office by governmental order, as reported by local police chief Hakim Khan. However, no one was told the reasons behind the lockdown operation of the Save the Children compound.
The charity organization has given a statement to ABC, confirming the close-down of its Islamabad office, explaining they did not receive any kind of warning or notification as to why the Pakistani authorities had issues this order.
Save the Children works in close collaboration with several government ministries across Pakistan, and its main purpose in the country is to improve public service delivery systems in education, nutrition, health, and child welfare.
The agency appears in a 2012 Pakistan report, as governmental intelligence found a potential link between the charity and Shakeel Afridi. This Pakistani doctor had been allegedly recruited by the CIA to conduct a fake vaccination program that would help the US find Osama bin Laden, Al-Qaeda former chief.
Even though the expatriate staff was then forced to go back to their countries, Save the Children remained strong on their position, denying any connection with Dr Afridi or the CIA. International aid groups have been under harsh scrutiny ever since, as the Pakistani authorities suspect that some of them are just covers for international spies.
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