In a statement issued Friday Save the Children said, “We categorically deny these allegations. There is absolutely no truth to these allegations and no concrete evidence to support them”.
“We reiterate, Save the Children has never conducted a vaccination campaign in Abbottabad or in any other part of the country nor has provided any support to any other individual or organisation to carry out any vaccination campaign,” said the statement.
“Dr Afridi has never been an employee of this NGO, nor has he worked as a consultant or contractor for Save the Children in Pakistan. Save the Children has never paid any amount to Dr Afridi.
When his allegations surfaced in media for the first time, we thoroughly investigated all of his allegations, which proved to be completely untrue and false,” it added.
The government has constituted a Commission to investigate the Abbottabad incident.
“The organisation has been cooperating fully with the Abbottabad Commission and the government agencies throughout their investigation. We have provided any and all information requested todate by the Commission. We have provided evidence to the Commission that nullifies the claims made by Dr Afridi regarding his association with Save the Children. We are confident that the Commission is fully satisfied with our cooperation.”
The NGO further said, “We are a transparent and responsible organisation and invite the government to carry out a special investigation of our operations in Pakistan to any depth of detail as they deem necessary until all doubts are cleared”.
The organisation deplored reports that a lifesaving activity had been used to carry out intelligence gathering that had seriously dented efforts by the humanitarian community to eradicate polio and other life threatening diseases from Pakistan by creating suspicions about credibility of humanitarian efforts and contributing to a higher vaccination refusal rate.
“We, along with the International NGO community, already have conveyed our dismay to the Director of the CIA, David Petraeus. We would request the media and all concerned to act responsibly and wait for the Abbottabad Commission to complete its investigations. It is unwarranted to speculate any conclusions before the Commission report is published and in fact undermines that process”.
“For more than 30 years Save the Children has served the most vulnerable children and their families in Pakistan. We are reaching over 7 million beneficiaries with our life-saving and development support in more than 70 districts of our country. Save the Children commits that in partnership with the government, we will continue to put the rights and needs of children first and will not allow any false news or speculations to hinder our joint effort to provide crucial support for the survival and development of children in Pakistan”.