ISLAMABAD - After making repeated claims that it had not retracted from the decision of sealing the country office of Save the Children in Islamabad, the federal government here on Wednesday finally got re-opened the office of international non-governmental organization (INGO).
With the un-sealing of country office, Save the Children, an international aid group, resumed its operations throughout the country excluding those areas in which the government had showed its reservations.
The local administration of Islamabad unsealed the country office of Save the Children (STC), located in one of the posh sectors of the capital, in presence of its staff after the Ministry of Interior formally issued such directions.
An official of the Ministry of Interior informed that the office of STC had conditionally been re-opened for a period of six months and during this period it will have to get register afresh with the ministry during that period.
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, the other day, had told media persons that STC had been allowed to re-open its 13 offices out of total 73 for a period of six months. He had further said that it would not be allowed to work in sensitive or ‘security designated areas’ of the country including Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).
However, the official of the ministry said that it had yet to be finally decided that at which of its offices STC would continue its operations and the process would take some time as negotiations were underway. “STC has shared the list of its offices with us,” he added. Ministry of Interior on June 11 had ordered closure of operations of STC in Pakistan and as a result of this decision, its country office had been sealed the same day. However, the government retracted from this decision only after a day on June 12 and it, through a notification, had held in abeyance the previous order.
As the media criticised the step of the government to backtrack from its earlier decision what it termed yielding to foreign pressure, Interior Minister Ch Nisar had said that government did not retract from its earlier decision and the office of international NGO in Islamabad was still sealed. The same statement had come from Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on the floor of the Upper House of the Parliament.
A spokesperson of the STC confirmed to TheNation that government had un-sealed its office in Islamabad and it had resumed its operations in those areas where the government had no objection. Save the Children is under the radar of the country’s intelligence and security agencies since the killing of Osama Bin Laden in May 2011 in Abbottabad after it was alleged in some report that aid organisation was used as a cover by the US spies for hunting the Al-Qaeda chief.