Save the Children allowed to reopen Islamabad office


A spokesman for the international aid group Save the Children on Wednesday said that the Pakistani government has allowed it to reopen its office in the federal capital.

Saeed Ahmed, the group’s spokesman in Pakistan, said authorities removed a lock on the gate to the group’s main office in Islamabad. The move comes two weeks after the government accused the group of violating its own charter, without elaborating.

The group has been under intense scrutiny in Pakistan due to local suspicion that it was connected to the May 2011 killing of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had used a vaccination campaign run by a Pakistani doctor to obtain DNA samples in Abbottabad, where bin Laden had been hiding. The group denies any link to the doctor involved in the CIA operation.

Talking to reporters at the Parliament House earlier this week, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said Save the Children would be permitted to partially resume its operations in the country.

The minister had said that all NGOs operating in Pakistan would have to get themselves registered within six months. International as well as local NGOs would be given permission to operate only after scrutiny clearance, he added.

“The government will introduce a policy to regulate the NGO sector because the current laws are vague. We want to put in place a central law, simple and online registration and a transparent accountability system.”

Nisar had said that thousands of NGOs were working in Pakistan, but 38-40 per cent of them were not registered. “There is neither a data bank of these NGOs nor a system of audit or accountability,” he said.

The minister had confirmed that the prime minister had approved a proposal to assign the work of regulating NGOs to the interior ministry. Currently the job was being done by the Economic Affairs Division.