Pakistan allows aid group Save the Children to reopen

AP News
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Posted: Jun 24, 2015 6:52 AM

ISLAMABAD (AP) — The government of Pakistan on Wednesday allowed the international aid agency Save the Children to reopen its offices, the group's spokesman said.

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

Wednesday's decision came days after Pakistan announced that non-government international aid groups could operate for another six months provided they register with officials in three months' time. It was seen as a relief for humanitarian groups, which were worried since Pakistan suddenly shut the offices of Save the Children.

Save the Children also said in a statement that welcomed the government's decision and said it would "continue to work as a credible, transparent and accountable partner" of the government of Pakistan.

Save the Children says it currently has 1,200 employees in Pakistan, none of whom are expatriates.

The group has been under intense scrutiny in Pakistan due to local suspicion it was connected to the May 2011 killing of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. The CIA 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 CIA operation, saying it only offered the doctor training along with a thousand others in 2009 and 2010 about maternal health care.