Pakistan Government has reportedly declined to renew visas of six members of the foreign aid agency called Save the Children, arguably the largest foreign aid agency currently working in Pakistan.
Save the Children issued a statement from it’s London office early Thursday, claiming that the Pakistani Interior Ministry had ordered that visas for our six international staff in Pakistan may not be renewed and that they had until Sept 12 to leave the country.
Being considered as a move to expel foreign aid workers from Pakistan in the wake of OBL raid, where the CIA recruited a Pakistani Doctor Shakeel Afridi, who helped the CIA by providing vital intelligence regarding Osama Bin Laden’s hideout which eventually helped in planning of the raid and Bin Laden’s demise.
After the news of expulsion got out on western media, Pakistan Interior Minister, Rehman Malik, sent a text message to the New York Times saying he is “examining the matter”. However, the expulsion orders have now been suspended for four weeks on Malik’s orders.
After the OBL raid, Dr. Shakeel Afridi was detained by the police and interrogated about his involvement with the CIA.
In his interrogation Dr. Afridi revealed that he was approached by the CIA through a senior official working for Save the Children in Peshawar. While on the other hand, Senior American officials accept and confirm that Dr. Afridi was a paid-informant working for CIA; they deny having any link between intelligence gathering and Save the Children.
According to a leaked summary of Dr.Afridi’s interrogation, he was recruited by the CIA in 2009 at a dinner party in Islamabad, which was hosted by an Australian man named Micheal McGrath.
Micheal McGrath was the country director of Save the Children, in Pakistan in 2009.
According to the leaked interrogation summary, Micheal McGrath met Dr. Shakeel Afridi at a health workers workshop in Peshawar and later invited him to a dinner party in Islamabad; where he would introduce Dr. Afridi to a female CIA spy who would later introduce Dr. Afridi to her handlers. According to Dr. Afridi, he had more than 25 meetings with the CIA handlers.
Dr. Afridi’s interrogation has cemented Pakistan’s suspicions about foreign aid agency being a cover for covert intelligence operations in Pakistan, leading to higher scrutiny and surveillance of many mainstream aid agencies and their foreign workers.
Over the past 15 months many major aid agencies have complained of restrictions on movement, difficulties in obtaining visas for expatriate staff and regular visits to their offices by Pakistani intelligence officials. The sharpest treatment has been reserved for Save the Children.
Save the Children says that Dr. Afridi attended four of its medical training courses between 2007 and 2010. However, he was never an employee and was never contracted to run a vaccination drive.
Save the Children officials in London and the United States declined to comment on the assertions in the police report.