‘Uncharitable’ affairs: Save the Children office sealed in Islamabad

Published: June 11, 2015
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News cameramen take footage of the office of the international charity 'Save the Children' sealed by order of authorities in Islamabad on June 11, 2015 as a policeman stands guard outside the building. PHOTO: AFP

News cameramen take footage of the office of the international charity 'Save the Children' sealed by order of authorities in Islamabad on June 11, 2015 as a policeman stands guard outside the building. PHOTO: AFP

News cameramen take footage of the office of the international charity 'Save the Children' sealed by order of authorities in Islamabad on June 11, 2015 as a policeman stands guard outside the building. PHOTO: AFP LOGO

ISLAMABAD: Authorities in the federal capital sealed the offices of international non-governmental organisation Save the Children on Thursday, said an official.

Save the Children has previously accused of involvement with the Central Intelligence Agency and Dr Shakeel Afridi in tracking down the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad.

The decision was taken on the directive of the interior ministry for its alleged involvement in some anti-state activities, said the official of the administration. The notification was issued by the Economic Affairs Division (EAD).

The notification reads: “The competent authority has been pleased to decide that M/s Save the Children international be asked to wind up its offices/operations in Pakistan forthwith and also issue direction to its expatriates to leave Pakistan within 15 days.”

The official said soon after the notification, the Islamabad administration sealed the office, which is situated in  F-6/2 on Margalla Road.

Read: Pakistan expels Save the Children’s foreign staff

A senior official of the administration said a high-powered committee had decided last week to shut the INGO for its allegedly involvement in some anti-state activities.

The government had already decided the scrutiny of all the INGOs currently operating in the country.

In this regard a committee was formed, headed by PM’s Special Assistant on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi, comprising representatives of the Intelligence Bureau, ISI, interior ministry,

EAD and the Foreign Office to evaluate security agencies’ reports on the credibility and activities of the NGOs in question.

“We have sealed the office of Save the Children on government instructions,” Kamran Cheema, a senior government official told AFP.

“We don’t know the reasons behind this order. We were sent a three-line notification by the interior ministry saying that this office should be sealed and all the expatriate staff be sent back to their countries within 15 days,” Cheema said. The notification was issued by Economic Affairs Division (EAD).

A copy of notification available with The Express Tribune

The government did not make any formal announcement but an official from the interior ministry said that the agency was involved in the “anti-Pakistan activities”.

“Their activities were being monitored since a long time. They were doing something which was against Pakistan’s interest,” said the official without giving his name because he was not authorised to speak to the media.

Local police chief Hakim Khan told AFP that one of his officers was standing guard outside the charity’s office on the orders of the government but that he was “unaware of the reasons behind closing down the Save the Children office”.

A policeman stands guard outside the office of the international charity ‘Save the Children’ sealed by order of authorities in Islamabad on June 11, 2015

Pakistan has since hardened its policies towards international aid groups, accusing them of being covers for spying operations and has repeatedly warned them to restrict their activities, vowing stern action for any ‘suspicious’ activity.

A senior administration official said a high-powered committee had been formed for scrutiny of INGOs under Special Assistant on Foreign Affairs to the Prime Minister Tariq Fatemi. It includes members from the Intelligence Bureau, ISI, the interior ministry, EAD and the Foreign Office.

Save the Children says it had not been served a notice 

A Save the Children Pakistan spokesperson confirmed early on Friday that its office in Islamabad had been closed and then sealed by the authorities. However, it claimed that they had not been served any notice to this effect.

“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.”

In a statement, the NGO added that it had been working in Pakistan for more than 35 years with over 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.”

It added that all their work was designed and delivered in close collaboration with the government ministries across the country and that their programmes in health, education and food security had reached over four million children and their families last year.

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Reader Comments (32)

  • Chengez K
    Jun 11, 2015 - 10:49PM

    How come it took Federal government 4 years after Osama fake vaccination episode to kick out this notorious NGO …….If this is the speed of reaction of federal government then GOD SAVE US

    In the Abottabad commission report it was stated that 90 % NGO are being used as a cover by foreign intelligence services and still no REAL action ……Recommend

  • London Banker
    Jun 11, 2015 - 11:15PM

    The NGO’s senior execs should be ashamed of themselves for ruining the lives of the 1,000+ workers this NGO employed and for the benefit they wanted for the children. Unfortunately you cannot carry out anti state activities as a ‘side business’ while you do your main job as an NGO.Recommend

  • Ih
    Jun 11, 2015 - 11:33PM

    Many of the NGOs are spending money for their own well being . Little spent on charitable work. Accounting is very opaque. Many are there promoting religious and political agenda. Strict scrutiny of work and accounting is required. May be we should learn to do without, you will be much more independent. You cannot live on hand outs for ever.Recommend

  • Kamal Hashmi
    Jun 12, 2015 - 12:05AM

    The NGO culture has been disturbing as of late. I personally know of several people that applied at large scale NGOS and were told that they’d have to hand over 25% of the paycheck every month as a “thank you” payment for getting hired. Well hopefully we’ll see more of these either busted or at the very least audited and identified.Recommend

  • cautious
    Jun 12, 2015 - 12:11AM

    One of the most prominent charitable outfits in the World – offices in most of the 3rd World countries including Gaza …. closing them down without a good reason won’t look good for Pakistan.Recommend

  • Saleem
    Jun 12, 2015 - 12:18AM

    Expel Farzana bari to India or to Arabian sea. She is well known for various notorious activities. Recommend

  • Ibs
    Jun 12, 2015 - 12:35AM

    If you want to make money, just open an NGO. You will be rich in no time. Recommend

  • Kitty
    Jun 12, 2015 - 1:14AM

    Throughout the world, this NGO does not carry a good name.Abroad also, I have heard whispers about them. Recommend

  • unbelievable
    Jun 12, 2015 - 2:25AM

    Fine – hope they take the money & jobs and help the children in India and Afghanistan where they will be appreciated. No shortage of kids that need help in Asia.Recommend

  • Ch. Allah Daad
    Jun 12, 2015 - 2:41AM

    Human rights, women empowerment, freedom of speech, family planning and western education are all anti Pakistan activities. Anyone involved in these activities must be kicked out of the country.Recommend

  • Jalal
    Jun 12, 2015 - 4:11AM

    Probably big ups were not getting any commission from Save the Children.Recommend

  • numbersnumbers
    Jun 12, 2015 - 4:28AM

    @Chengez K:
    Wow, what delusions!!!
    NOWHERE in the Abbottabad report does it state that “90% NGO are being used as a cover by foreign intelligence services..”!!!!
    All can read the Abbottabad Comission report on AlJazeera to see for yourselves! Line item 782 in detail speaks about NGO operations in Pakistan in relation to security operations !!!Recommend

  • Javed Ali
    Jun 12, 2015 - 5:20AM

    Shame on this NGO for spying in the garb of humanitarian activities.Recommend

  • AVMPolpot
    Jun 12, 2015 - 5:38AM

    ” They were doing something which was against Pakistan’s interest,””
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    They were dishing out fake certificates a la Axact.Recommend

  • Khan
    Jun 12, 2015 - 6:51AM

    Allegations of using zakat, sacrificial hides’ money for criminal activities by Khidmat-e-khalq foundation by MQM and other NGO’s. No more NGO’s in this country if they are really concerned put money in the “BAITULMAL” run by government n army, and spending should be transparent.Recommend

  • Baloch
    Jun 12, 2015 - 7:22AM

    Good move. It was a CIA front. Kick out the other fake NGOs as well.Recommend

  • numbersnumbers
    Jun 12, 2015 - 7:26AM

    @Kitty:
    Strange that you (conveniently!) neglected to repeat these “whispers” about them!
    Or are you just making these things up?????Recommend

  • Ali
    Jun 12, 2015 - 10:10AM

    @Ih:
    This is completely untrue. The NGO sector is bound by stricter accountability standards than the government. NGOs also do not give out “hand outs” as you suggest, they work to empower local people. Accounting is completely transparent.Recommend

  • Ali
    Jun 12, 2015 - 10:20AM

    It’s important to note that the order specifically states that foreign staff must leave the country, and that save the children have stated they do not have foreign staff. what does this show about how well the govt actually knows the organization and what they are doing?Recommend

  • anonimous
    Jun 12, 2015 - 10:28AM

    This was & still a notorious NGO, involved in anti state activities. The current expat and senior Pakistani old staff was moved / shifted to other countries to regain its name as a good charitable NGO, for getting clean chit for NOC. Dr shakeel was given training four times before abbotabad operation to be carried out. Two times training in Peshawar, One time at PC bhurban nathiagali, one time in islamabad. He was paid indirectly by save the children into his account. Still during training days he was guided by CIA staff here in Pakistan about do’s and dont’s. Still all senior pakistani staff at save the children are enjoying making money without their country safety priority keeping in view first. tayyeba ji and nadeem ahmad ji, now enjoy your stay.Recommend

  • Chaiman Wow
    Jun 12, 2015 - 11:36AM

    Thank you for your work. Have safe trip back to Langley.Recommend

  • Ali S
    Jun 12, 2015 - 11:52AM

    But of course, local NGOs like Falah i Insaniyat and the countless charity wings of sectarian and militant organizations are still allowed to run amok because killing Pakistanis isn’t anti-Pakistan. This country has gone mad.Recommend

  • Muhammad
    Jun 12, 2015 - 11:58AM

    @anonimous: You are absolutely right because one such notorious character was Mr Afnan, who was thrown out of Pakistan Army, and he was the safety and security head of Save the Children Pakistan while at Peshawar Col retired Aurang Zeb was the Security head in May 2011. Afnan was sent out of Pakistan while the fate of Aurangzeb is not known to me.Recommend

  • Muhammad Shoaib
    Jun 12, 2015 - 12:10PM

    @Ali: I deny your claim of accountability in NGOs, please read this to know the truth https://www.linkedin.com/grp/post/6587034-5929081620265979906Recommend

  • Aizi Khan
    Jun 12, 2015 - 12:44PM

    The order must involve clarity in it. Otherwise, By this way, Govt. will start sealing all the NGOs but non of USAID or UN NGOs will be touched. This is pure discrimination. Recommend

  • Lord of the Ring
    Jun 12, 2015 - 3:02PM

    USAID is said to be the mother organization of all such

    NGOs working against this country with

    impunity Recommend

  • ayesha m
    Jun 12, 2015 - 3:38PM

    @Ali, Do you work with SC?Recommend

  • lkhan
    Jun 12, 2015 - 4:34PM

    From what one knows of Save the Children, its finances are through private funding only; its reports on the welfare of children from Pakistan to Spain are well researched and documented; it does excellent work to improve social welfare for children in all parts of the world. I am surprised that it should be accused of working against the interests of Pakistan. Would the GoP be kind enough to provide proof of its accusations. Secretiveness in democratic systems is not fair.Recommend

  • Don Juan
    Jun 12, 2015 - 7:07PM

    Looks like you’ve got some kinda propaganda machine littering your comments, Tribune! Or a politically motivated spam bot.Recommend

  • NGO worker
    Jun 12, 2015 - 8:06PM

    @London Banker:

    What proof do you have to state that they carried out anti-state activities? Save the CHildren’s work has been aligned with it core values and they done a lot of good work for the children of Pakistan, and there are many more who need their help. Recommend

  • Syed Shah
    Jun 13, 2015 - 2:33PM

    Dr Shakeel afridi applied for those trainings offered by SC just like every other doctor he received training. What he did doesn’t mean it was SC behind all that scene. GoP still doesn’t have new formats to extend NOC. When it was asked by SC.Recommend

  • Amir
    Jun 15, 2015 - 10:41AM

    Decision reversed. Are we a free country ?Recommend

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