Islamabad: Government administration officials along with the police raided at the charity’s office in on Margalla road sector F-6/2 in Islamabad after working hours and placed a lock on the door and a notice saying that the building had been sealed.
A senior official, Kamran Cheema told AFP, “We have sealed the office of Save the Children on government instructions” .
Kamran Cheema said, “We don’t know the reasons behind this order. We were sent a three-line notification by the interior ministry saying that this office should be sealed and all the expatriate staff be sent back to their countries within 15 days,” The notification was issued by Economic Affairs Division (EAD).
“Their activities were being monitored since a long time. They were doing something which was against Pakistan’s interest,” said the official without giving his name because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
Chief of local police Hakim Khan told AFP that one of his officers was standing guard outside the charity’s office on the orders of the government but that he was “unaware of the reasons behind closing down the Save the Children office”. No one from Save the Children’s Pakistan branch could be reached for comment.
In 2012, an intelligence report had linked the aid group to Pakistani doctor Shakeel Afridi, who the CIA allegedly used to carry out a fake vaccination program as they searched for al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden. NGO has always denied that it had any links with Afridi or the CIA.
Pakistan has since hardened its policies towards international aid groups, accusing them of being covers for spying operations and has repeatedly warned them to restrict their activities.
A senior administration official said a high-powered committee had been formed for scrutiny of INGOs under Special Assistant on Foreign Affairs to the Prime Minister Tariq Fatemi. It includes members from the Intelligence Bureau, ISI, the interior ministry, EAD and the Foreign Office.
Statement From NGO Save The Children
Save the Children Pakistan spokesperson confirmed on Friday early in the morning that its office in Islamabad had been closed and then sealed by the authorities. However, it claimed that they had not been served any notice to this effect. “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.”
In a statement, NGO added that it had been working in Pakistan for more than 35 years with over 1200 staff members working across the nation. “Save the Children does not have any expatriate staff working in Pakistan, all our staff are Pakistani.” It is also added that all their work was designed and delivered in close collaboration with the government ministries across the country and that their programs in health, education and food security had reached over four million children and their families last year.