Pakistan has shut the Islamabad offices of Save the Children and has ordered the organization to leave the country, Reuters reported on Friday.
Pakistan said it was reacting to the charity’s “work against [the] national interest” but didn’t give further details, the Financial Times reported, citing a government official.
Save the Children, which advocates for children's rights and provides aid in 120 countries, has fallen foul of the government since 2011 when it was linked to Shakil Afridi, a Pakistani doctor recruited by the CIA to help in the hunt that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden. The charity denies being involved with the CIA or Afridi.
Pakistani officials placed a lock on the gate of the group's office on Thursday night. It has been ordered to wind up its operations across Pakistan, and also have its foreign staff leave within 15 days, according to a government notice published by The Express Tribune.
Save the Children has said that all its staff in the country are Pakistani.
Here’s an excerpt from Save the Children’s response, published on its website on Friday.
On June 11, Save the Children confirmed that its office in Islamabad, Pakistan, had been closed and sealed off by the Pakistani authorities. 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.
Save the Children has worked in Pakistan for more than 35 years and we currently have 1,200 staff members working across the nation. Save the Children does not have any expatriate staff working in Pakistan, all our staff are Pakistani.