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Pakistan expels 18 international aid groups

The Pakistani Government has ordered at least 18 International Aid Groups to wind up their operations and leave the country within two months, Officials said on Friday.

ActionAid, Open Society Foundation, Save the Children and Plan International are among the organisations that have been asked to leave Pakistan, officials at the Interior Ministry said, seeking anonymity.

No reason was given for the expulsion order, but the officials said Pakistani spy agencies considered these charities to be a front for spying by Western countries, especially the United States.

The move is part of a drive the government began three years ago to expel the charity groups.

These charities will be allowed to resume operations after they get themselves re-registered under strict new regulations, the officials added.

A similar order was issued by the previous government in December 2017, but it was not followed up that time, officials added.

The action stems from a report by the country’s spy agencies that Save the Children ran a fake vaccination drive to help an American intelligence agency find al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.

American soldiers killed bin Laden in 2011 inside the compound that the al-Qaeda chief was using as hideout for years in the northern Pakistani city of Abbottabad.

Save the Children denied the allegations and the doctor who allegedly ran the vaccination drive is still in jail.

(dpa/NAN)

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