UK group denies Pak 'Osama bin Laden charge'
London: Strongly denying any link with the Pakistani doctor who reportedly helped the CIA trace Osama bin Laden, a London-based charity today said it was seeking clarification from Islamabad for refusing visas to its staff working in the country.
The organisation Save the Children said its international staff in Pakistan had been given two months to leave the country, but said that the authorities in Islamabad had offered no reason for the sudden expulsion.
Ishbel Matheson, Director of Save the Children, said that the organisation did not have any link whatsoever with Dr Shakil Afridi, who reportedly helped the CIA trace Osama bin Laden through a vaccination programme in Abbottabad before he was killed in May lasy year.
Matheson said: "We strongly deny some media reports linking us to Dr Afridi. He was never employed by Save the Children, nor was he ever paid for any kind of work. We have never run a vaccination programme in Abbottabad".
She added: "Any allegation linking Save the Children to the CIA or any other security service is completely untrue. We are an impartial humanitarian organisation, with a mandate for helping children in the greatest need. This is what we continue to do in Pakistan".
Matheson said the organisation had been informed by Pakistan's Ministry of Interior that visas for its six international staff may not be renewed.
Matheson said: "We are still unclear as to the reason for this, and we are urgently seeking clarification. Like many other NGOs in Pakistan, there have been ongoing problems with securing visas over the last 15 months".
She added: "However, the vas majority of our staff, 2000 of them -?are Pakistani nationals and our extensive programme in the country, which reaches more than seven million people, is continuing to operate, helping vulnerable families".