Pak shuts down 'Save the Children' offices; warns foreign NGOs

Pak shuts down 'Save the Children' offices; warns foreign NGOs

Pakistan today said it will ban foreign NGOs "working against the country", a day after it sealed the office of international children's aid agency 'Save the Children', a charity that was embroiled in a controversy in 2012 linking it with US tracking down Osama bin Laden.

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said parliament was "deliberating on exposing" the "many" foreign non- governmental organisations (NGOs) "working against Pakistan".

"Many NGOs are working against Pakistan and we are deliberating on exposing them in the parliament," Nisar told reporters. "Non-Government Organisations working against the country's national interest will not be allowed to continue their work in Pakistan," he added.

His remarks came a day after the 'Save the Children' charity's country office here was sealed by government officials accompanied by police who placed a lock on its gate and asked employees to leave.

The interior minister added that they had been receiving intelligence reports for many years but no action was being taken. NGOs, whose numbers run into hundreds, have been operating without any code of conduct, law and agenda, he said.

He also appealed to all international NGOs and governments to respect the laws of Pakistan, adding that the government will not bear any kind of foreign pressure regarding the working criteria of the NGOs.

"We don't want to put ban on any NGO but we want to compel them to work under their charters," Khan said, without naming any charity. Earlier, police said the NGO's foreign staff has been directed to leave Pakistan within 15 days though the charity in statement issued today said it had no foreign national as its employee. A statement issued by the Interior Ministry said the international NGO was involved in "anti-Pakistan activities", Geo News reported.

In its statement, 'Save the Children' objected to the government's action.
"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.

The NGO added that it has been operating in Pakistan for over 35 years and that currently it had 1,200 employees in the country but none of them a foreign national.

Pakistan has previously linked the charity to the fake vaccination programme used by the CIA to track down al-Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden. The NGOs activities had been under strict scrutiny for the past six months.

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