The Islamabad, Pakistan, office of the Save the Children humanitarian organization was shut down by authorities in a campaign against alleged spying.
The London-based agency, formally known as Save the Children Fund, had its Pakistani headquarters closed late Thursday under orders by the Interior Ministry for alleged “anti-Pakistani projects,” an unidentified government official said. Foreign employees were ordered to leave the country within 15 days, although the international aid group said all 1,200 employees across the country are Pakistani citizens.
“We strongly object to this action and are raising our serious concerns at the highest levels,” a Save the Children statement said, noting it serves over four million people in Pakistan in “close collaboration with government ministries” and strengthens “public service delivery systems in health, nutrition, education and child welfare.”
Relations between the government and the charity, which operates in 120 countries, declined after Pakistani intelligence alleged Save the Children was linked to a Pakistani doctor recruited to help the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency find Osama bin Laden. The charity, the largest aid organization in Pakistan, denied the claims. Pakistan has since strengthened its policies regarding non-governmental organizations, accusing many groups of involving themselves in espionage.