Pakistan Shuts Own Offices of Save the Children

Pakistani officials placed a lock on the gate of the group\'s offices Thursday night and asked employees to leave.

Published: 12th June 2015 03:19 PM  |   Last Updated: 12th June 2015 03:19 PM   |  A+A-


ISLAMABAD: The Pakistani government shut down the offices of the international aid group Save the Children in the capital, Islamabad, without giving any reason, officials and the aid group said on Friday.

Pakistani officials placed a lock on the gate of the group's offices Thursday night and asked employees to leave.

The officials also told Pakistani employees that the government wanted all foreign nationals working with the charity to leave the country within 15 days. Two government officials said the action was taken on orders from the Ministry of Interior.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

The spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, Qazi Khalilullah, refused to comment and referred all questions on the issue to the Ministry of Interior.

"I will not be commenting on a decision that has been taken by the government. Our decisions are always well considered," he said during a weekly news briefing on Friday.

In a statement released to the media on Friday, Save the Children confirmed that its office in Islamabad had been closed by the government.

"Save the Children was not served any notice to this effect. We strongly object to this action and are raising our serious concerns at the highest levels," it said, added that the group has worked in Pakistan for over 35 years and that currently it had 1,200 employees nationwide— none of them a foreign national.

Last year, the group's programs in health, education and food security reached more than 4 million children and their families, it said.

"All our work is designed and delivered in close collaboration with the government ministries across the country, and aims to strengthen public service delivery systems in health, nutrition, education and child welfare," it said.

Save the Children has previously been accused by Pakistani intelligence agencies of facilitating a Pakistani doctor's vaccinations program in the city of Abbottabad as cover for the CIA to obtain DNA samples at a compound where al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was later killed by U.S. commandos.


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