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Pakistan Shuts Down Save The Children Office and Kicks Charity Out

Save the Children has previously been accused by Pakistan of facilitating a CIA vaccination program that tracked down Osama bin Laden. Now it's being accused of anti-Pakistan activities.

by VICE News
Jun 12 2015, 10:00am

Photo by B.K. Bangash/AP

Save the Children — the NGO accused by the Pakistani government of involvement in the CIA polio-vaccination plot that helped find Osama bin Laden — has been ordered to leave Pakistan.

On Thursday night, officials placed a lock on the gate of the group's offices in the capital city Islamabad and gave foreign staff 15 days to leave the country.

Two government officials said the action was taken on orders from the Ministry of Interior, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Another unnamed official told AFP: "Their activities were being monitored since a long time — they were doing something which was against Pakistan's interest."

In a statement released to the media on Friday, Save the Children confirmed 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, adding that the group had worked in Pakistan for over 35 years and that currently it had 1,200 employees nationwide — none of them foreign nationals.

Related: Another Last-Minute Stay of Execution for Pakistani Prisoner Sentenced as Juvenile

Last year, the charity's programs in health, education and food security reached more than four 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," said the statement.

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.

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 US commandos. The NGO has always denied the allegations.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Related: We Spoke to the Lawyer Facing Death Threats for Defending the Doctor Who Helped Find Bin Laden

Osama Bin Laden
Save the Children
shakil afridi
polio vaccination program