Aid agency expelled: Pakistan Save The Children

Published: June 12, 2015

Aid agency expelled: Pakistan Save The Children, The aid charity caught up in the CIA operation to capture Osama bin Laden was ordered out of Pakistan on Thursday after officials accused it of “anti-Pakistan” activities.

The Islamabad headquarters of Save the Children were padlocked by police while a government notification told the group to wind up its operations and ensure that expatriate staff left within 15 days.

The expulsion of one of the world’s best known non-governmental organisations (NGOs) follows years of growing distrust towards foreign charities that security services suspect are often used as covers for intelligence work.

“There were some intelligence reports suggesting some of the international NGOs funded by US, Israel and India were involved in working on an anti-Pakistan agenda,” interior minister Chaudhry Nisar told a press conference on Friday, at which he also launched a tirade against overseas rights activists campaigning against the growing use of the death penalty by the country.

“Let me clarify: offices of any international NGO found doing anti-Pakistan activities would be shut down,” he said.

Save the Children first attracted official wrath after becoming embroiled – the organisation has always claimed unwittingly – in the CIA’s efforts in 2011 to pinpoint the location of former al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden to a compound in the town of Abbottabad.

In 2012 Islamabad gave foreign staff working for Save the Children just a week to leave the country after the country’s top spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate (ISI), linked it to a bogus hepatitis B vaccination programme conducted in the town by a doctor called Shakil Afridi.

Under the cover of injecting householders with hepatitis B vaccine, Afridi had tried to collect DNA samples from Bin Laden family members living in the walled compound during the months before US special forces raided the building.

To the fury of US politicians, Afridi was arrested shortly after the killing of Bin Laden and sentenced to 33 years in jail by a tribal court for charges unrelated to the CIA or Bin Laden.

A leaked version of the official inquiry into the Bin Laden affair revealed Afridi told investigators a senior Save the Children official introduced him to female CIA officers, with whom he held secretive meetings in warehouses.

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