Pakistan has ordered foreign staff of Save the Children to leave the country within a week, a move apparently linked to reports that a doctor who helped the CIA hunt Osama bin Laden had ties to the NGO.
A spokesman for Save the Children told the media today that the Pakistan government had ordered its six foreign staff members to leave the country.
The order, issued earlier this week by the Interior Ministry, did not cite any reason for the expulsion, he said.
Activists of rights groups said the move appeared to be linked to the US operation that killed bin Laden in the Pakistani garrison town of Abbottabad in May last year.
Pakistani intelligence officials have claimed that Shakeel Afridi, a doctor who helped the CIA track bin Laden, was introduced to American intelligence operatives by Save the Children workers. Save the Children has denied these claims.
The NGO has worked in Pakistan for over three decades and has about 2,000 Pakistani employees across the country.
Afridi was arrested for running a fake vaccination programme for the CIA as part of efforts to obtain DNA samples of bin Laden or members of his family.
He was recently given a 33-year prison term by a court in Pakistan’s tribal belt for alleged links to a militant group.
Foreigners working for several aid agencies in Pakistan have reported increased restrictions on their work since the US raid against bin Laden.
The agencies have been assisting people displaced by the 2005 earthquake and floods in the past two years.