ISLAMABAD: Days after it ordered the expulsion of foreign staff of a British non-governmental organisation, the interior ministry confirmed on Sunday that the order has been “temporarily suspended.”
“Yes, we have temporarily suspended the order,” said a spokesperson for the interior ministry while talking to The Express Tribune.
The order follows an announcement to the effect by Interior Minister Rehman Malik a day ago, the spokesperson added.
Last week, the ministry had ordered all expatriate staff of Save the Children to leave Pakistan, purportedly for the organisation’s link to Dr Shakil Afridi.
NGO welcomes move
Save the Children welcomed the announcement from Rehman Malik to indefinitely lift the order revoking the visas of its six expatriate staff in the country.
In a statement sent to the media, Save the Children spokesperson Ghulam Qadri said, “This provides an opportunity to continue our discussions with the government to clarify any misunderstandings about our work in Pakistan.
“We categorically deny media reports linking us to the CIA or Dr Afridi. These allegations are untrue and there is no evidence to support them,” the spokesperson said.
“Save the Children has never conducted a vaccination campaign in Abbottabad or in any other part of the country,” he said. The spokesperson added that the organisation has been “cooperating fully with the Abbottabad Commission and the government agencies throughout their investigation.”
“We have provided evidence to the Commission that nullifies the claims made by Dr Afridi regarding his association with Save the Children,” the spokesperson added.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 10th, 2012.