North Waziristan tribes endorse Taliban ban on polio vaccination

By AFP
Published: July 18, 2012

Polio vaccination will be banned until drone attacks are stopped, says tribal elder. PHOTO: FILE

MIRANSHAH: Tribesmen endorsed a Taliban ban on polio vaccinations Wednesday, closing the door to the prospect of any child being vaccinated in North Waziristan as part of a nationwide campaign.

Officials had pinned their last hopes of inoculating children in the northwestern district on talks with tribesmen, which were successively delayed until Wednesday, the last day of the nationwide campaign.

“Polio vaccination will be banned until drone attacks are stopped,” tribal elder Qadir Khan told a gathering of more than 200 elders and Islamic scholars in Miranshah, the main town of North Waziristan.

“Drones martyr so many children, while polio afflicts one or two out of hundreds of thousands,” said tribal elder Maamoor Khan.

North Waziristan administrator Siraj Ahmed Khan said he had sought to convince the tribesmen to accept the vaccinations for the disease, which leaves children crippled for life.

“Polio is rampant in tribal areas and government desires to prevent its spread,” Khan told the meeting.

The polio battle exemplifies the government’s limited writ over the tribal belt.

Hafiz Gul Bahadur, whose followers are fighting Western troops in Afghanistan, and the Pakistani Taliban banned vaccinations in North and South Waziristan, risking the health of 240,000 children.

They demanded an end to US drone strikes and condemned the campaign as a cover for espionage. A Pakistani doctor was jailed in May after helping the CIA find Osama bin Laden using a hepatitis vaccination programme.

Officials said that a further 110,000 children in the tribal district of Khyber also risked going without the vaccine, because of fighting between government troops and Mangal Bagh.

The prime minister’s office told AFP that the campaign would be extended until Thursday and Friday in the rest of Pakistan, but said there had been “no change” on the situation in Waziristan.

The highly infectious disease affects mainly the under-fives and can cause paralysis in a matter of hours. Some cases can be fatal.

The Lancet medical journal has said vaccination problems last year led to Pakistan’s highest number of polio cases in a decade, 198, compared to 144 in 2010.

Reader Comments (57)

  • Jul 18, 2012 - 6:03PM

    How sensible. Its like; I’ll throw my car off the cliff if you try to steal it

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  • Hashmi
    Jul 18, 2012 - 6:05PM

    and rightly so.. they have every reason to doubt this after what Shakil Afridi did..

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  • aqib m
    Jul 18, 2012 - 6:05PM

    maybe imran khan should hurry up his visit to waziristan and convince the tribesmen to allow polio vaccination

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  • BaBa Blacksheep
    Jul 18, 2012 - 6:11PM

    It is sooooooooooo stupid argument.If USA not stop killing us we will kill our children.

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  • Ninja
    Jul 18, 2012 - 6:18PM

    but I thought tribal elders supported drone attacks? guess it was another lie made up by Pakistani “liberals” who said that tribesmen were happy that the drones were killing terrorists and terrorists only.

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  • HUS
    Jul 18, 2012 - 6:18PM

    If childrens lives were so important to the tribal elders then they should try every means possible to save them ( i.e take the vaccine.) Drones strikes are not in their control, at least this was!

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  • asif ali
    Jul 18, 2012 - 6:19PM

    i am not surprised the readers of et have no idea about fata

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  • Khalid
    Jul 18, 2012 - 6:20PM

    Brilliant demand, this should be proof enough about how there mindset and a warning to those who think one can negotiate and talk sense with them…

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  • Zahid
    Jul 18, 2012 - 6:37PM

    Poor children will have to pay the price for Shakil Afridi Stunts.

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  • Butt
    Jul 18, 2012 - 6:43PM

    I just love this. They are gambling with their children’s lives. They do not know if they would be bombed or not but in the meantime, let our children suffer. Recommend

  • A2Z
    Jul 18, 2012 - 6:44PM

    @Khalid..and what about other aspect of this news that drone strikes are killing innocent people in the region. Don’t always bash everybody to propagate your own opinion without looking at other aspects.

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  • Marxism4Pakistan.
    Jul 18, 2012 - 6:49PM

    @aqib m:
    Actually I’m pretty sure that Khan will endorse their idiotic stance and encourage them to ban Polio in the rest of Pakistan.Recommend

  • Khalid
    Jul 18, 2012 - 7:47PM

    @A2Z, I think you got it wrong, who in his right mind will compare drone attacks with polio vaccine, you are destroying the health of your children, is this right decision to have paraplegic population maim children which can be avoided by a few drops, how does it effects the Americans, this is so senseless and stupid.

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  • Prakash
    Jul 18, 2012 - 7:51PM

    Take that!!!

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  • Sameer Khan
    Jul 18, 2012 - 7:57PM

    Well, if drones dont kill them, polio might.

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  • Mirza
    Jul 18, 2012 - 8:06PM

    Are there more OBL hiding in Waziristan? What do these people have to hide? There must be a lot at stake to put all the children of the area at risk. If Dr. Afridi wanted to test the DNA of suspected terrorists does that mean all of Waziristan would not trust a Doctor? If Dr. Afridi used a car or ambulance does that mean the whole population would never use a car of ambulance ever again in their lives? Dr. Afridi went to medical school let us blow up that medical school also.Recommend

  • Babloo
    Jul 18, 2012 - 8:13PM

    The message this sends is.
    ‘United States of America should be more concerned about my child than I am’

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  • Hammad
    Jul 18, 2012 - 8:15PM

    Tribals=Taliban. Please tell me I’m wrong.

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  • Faiza
    Jul 18, 2012 - 8:18PM

    Where is Imran Khan with his peace caravan?

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  • Raj - USA
    Jul 18, 2012 - 8:20PM

    Army is primarily responsible for this debacle. They spun stories around Dr. Afridi and hyped up the matter so much that it has now gone out of control. Other political parties such as PTI PML-N and MQM are all participants in this as they, by their silence, are supporting these illiterate Mullas and terrorists. Even PPP is guilty to some extent. I was so disappointed when Sherry Rehman blamed Dr. Afridi for the failure of Polio Vaccination Campaign. PPP being seen as an ally of USA, is in no position to campaign for the vaccination. Nawaz Sherif, Imran Khan, and top leaders of MQM and leaders of all major political parties should personally visit these areas and campaign personally for the vaccination. Only God can save these children. I wish that these tribal leaders and terrorists who are preventing the vaccination become victims of Polio so that they can feel the pain themselves.

    In any other country, these acts of preventing vaccination would be a criminal offense. But in Pakistan, it is the Army and all political parties that are providing support to such heinous acts by remaining silent and spinning stories for their selfish gains.

    If Dr. Afridi’s act was good or bad is not the question now. The question is if Pakistanis want their children to suffer for their entire life.

    There is no country in the world today that is as cruel as Pakistan. Which country would you see cruel parents crippling and killing their own children and no one raises up to protest these insane acts? As you keep producing more and more children, you start to value and appreciate your children less and less and finally your children does not matter any more. The entire country and most of its citizens either provide silent support or are actively involved in these cruel acts.

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  • Jahanzeb Zafar
    Jul 18, 2012 - 8:36PM

    @Mirza, I can understand where your argument comes from but you have to understand that these people are at war and are being massacred by the drones. US and allies have used Dr.Afridi and some other doctors in the area illegally in a bid to gather human intelligence. These spies on American payroll report back questionable intelligence because if they don’t report anything back they risk losing their jobs and drones are being fired on mostly innocent people as a result. Due to this inhumane and ridiculously illegal war tactic which can be challenged as a war crime in any international court of law now nobody trusts vaccine workers who may or may not be spies as in the case if they were, the damage would be worst than polio as stated by the jirga. Yes polio vaccination is extremely necessary however by fighting someone else’s war we have made even these necessary steps impossible. END to our participation in this war is the solution to this and all other similar problems in Pakistan.

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  • A2Z
    Jul 18, 2012 - 8:40PM

    @Khalid…yeah this so senseless and stupid and nobody would to it if he is in his right mind. But unfortunately due to the drone strikes and their constant fear these people are not in their right mind. Now how you would convince them for polio vaccination? Can you propose any solution or just label them stupid and idiot!

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  • Usman Masood
    Jul 18, 2012 - 8:53PM

    Oh God! Its like sure We’ll cripple our children, if u don’t stop bombing us=/

    These tribal elders got old without education. Sure Polio Vaccination was used as a cover, that does not mean you go around banning it entirely. Just make sure you only trust the Govt and not some random NGO you’ve never heard of.

    However Lots of ppl going on about how “certain” political parties are to blame. Or the army=/
    Please, the only one to blame is the past and present acting Govt. That failed to educate the masses. Failed to get rid of feudalism(Oh Wait, they are the ones who represent feudals)

    Pakistans failure is the kind of blind support the general public gives to the ruling elite(leaving out the ones who have lost hope and don’t bother with it) Oh Jialas, Are you glad now? You got your PPP in at all costs. PPP at this point does not really believe in anything. Its done but nothing, and its allies have done nothing.

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  • Jul 18, 2012 - 8:54PM

    I love how everyone is blaming the people in Waziristan. Its amazing. I am sure this is the politically illuminated class. The one that knows what is right and what is wrong. If my children were being killed daily by drones, and i see foreign funded NGOs paving way for Dr. Afridi, then please you are wrong to ask me to not be a bit extreme. Rather than focusing on the need to stop the drones, and promote education in the region, every MORDERN person here seems to blame those born by the will of the Almighty into a region that is poor, they dont get the education you do (again cause of the familes you are born into). It would be nice to read comments saying something like this:
    “It is sad that people in Waziristan are having to push away the polio people. Just imagine what they are going through that mentally they are left in anguish and fear. Lets unite to stop the war there. They are our brothers, our fellow Pakistanis, and provide better facilities so we can win their trust back”. we the corrupt, the scum who are educated but accept Zardaris as President and sit home just complain for a few minutes. Who dares here to go help OUR COUNTRY MEN who are being KILLED IN WAR daily. Dont even try to compare how you think with them. AND i do pray none of us have to go through the trauma of war either.

    Its easier to point fingers at others, Act like human or like the scum, choice is all yours, my fellow educated friends Recommend

  • dude108
    Jul 18, 2012 - 8:56PM

    this country is definitly uneducation.. unless your literacy rate increases, this won’t be a new thing.

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  • g
    Jul 18, 2012 - 9:02PM

    No, I can’t propose any solution. The only logical conclusion is that they are idiots and stupid. I’m sure allah will protect them and their unfortunate children.

    Here is what I think: The drones must be working so double or triple the frequency. Once we eradicate enough of these terrorists, the people will be less inclined to agree with them out of fear and against their own self interests.

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  • Khalid
    Jul 18, 2012 - 9:04PM

    @A2Z, I am a strong believer in that people by the end of the day are masters of their own destiny and they can live the way they want to but they should respect the feelings and beliefs of others, the problem with the tribals and so called Talibans is that by sheer force and aggression they want to implement their ideology and beliefs on others and fail to understand that the only way out is by negotiations and give and take for a bright future for your children, you want to live in squalor or be a part of the international community and live a better life without compromising on your beliefs…the solution is not aggression and destruction and if you do than others will use the same…for too long they think that they can live in isolation, they can not, the should realize that they are in PAKISTAN and they are PAKISTANI.

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  • rp
    Jul 18, 2012 - 9:07PM

    was drive to kill Osama that is done why now compare with Drones that will continue

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  • Arya
    Jul 18, 2012 - 9:14PM

    Is this not killing of innocent people too? Tomorrows killing planned today!

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  • Enlightened
    Jul 18, 2012 - 9:19PM

    The war-lords have imposed their will on the hapless tribals who have no alternative but to abide by this dictum. Unfortunately, the innocent children have become the victims of this mindless decision which would cripple them for life. I am afraid if these assets come to power what would be the fate of the country ruled by them.

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  • Raj - USA
    Jul 18, 2012 - 9:35PM

    @A2Z:
    @Jahanzeb Zafar:

    Do you think that the F-16′s are maintained by Pakistani engineers alone ? There are many US engineers who visit regularly to maintain and repair these fighter jets. So is the case with many other equipments of the Navy, and Army such as naval fleet, radars, etc. You can trust the F-16 to US personnel but not trust the polio vaccination drops. By your argument the F-16′s can also be bugged to crash anywhere. What about those bridges and Dams where engineers from US or other countries provide assistance? What about the recent Google mapping of Lahore in minute details? What about so many other medicines of US origin, like pills for diabetes and blood pressure? Many political leaders and resourceful persons regularly visit US and UK for medical treatments and even regular check-ups. Even Saudi Monarch gets his surgery and treatment in US hospitals. If US has evil intentions, can it not take care of these leaders when they are in US hospitals by intentional or unintentional medical blunders ?

    As for the solution, why not Pakistan manufacture the polio drops locally and administer it through its Army doctors ? They can also request their friends in China or other Muslim countries for help. They can send their polio drops and also their doctors to administer these drops.

    Drones are not fired on innocent people as Jahanzeb claims. There may be unintentional collateral damages. It is these tribal terrorists who are intentionally targeting the children. They get the encouragement from many who justify such acts as a tit-for-tat act against Drone strikes. Where is the often repeated claim that Islam promotes education and is not against modern technology (which includes modern medicines). Pakistan has a long way to come out of the stone age it already is in. What is really surprising to me is that it is not just the illiterate tribesmen who support these insane acts but many Pakistanis, even educated class provide support by their silence or participation.

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  • Zahid
    Jul 18, 2012 - 9:41PM

    Why can the USA not even “HALT” its drone strikes till the time the polio campaign is over

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  • Ninja
    Jul 18, 2012 - 10:03PM

    @Raj, is there anything that army is not responsible for in your little indian troll mind? it wasn’t the army who hyped Afridi, it was the media and US.

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  • Parvez
    Jul 18, 2012 - 10:23PM

    It would be a safe bet to say that the children of the slobs who have imposed and endorsed this ban have all been vaccinated against polio.Recommend

  • aj
    Jul 18, 2012 - 10:39PM

    Pakistani Taliban: We will not let 250,000 of our own children get immunised against polio and would rather have them be crippled unless the drone attacks stop. Take that America! You’re messing with the wrong bearded buffoons!

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  • Not Amused
    Jul 18, 2012 - 10:47PM

    I would say God help Pakistan, but God helps those who help themselves.

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  • Hafeez
    Jul 18, 2012 - 10:54PM

    How naive of most commentors here! How do you expect tribal elders to oppose a taliban verdict? Even if they want polio vaccination, taliban wouldn’t let them do it. Please have some sense before shooting off senseless comments.

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  • Hafeez
    Jul 18, 2012 - 11:02PM

    @Khalid:
    How simply do you equate taliban with tribals. Since when did tribals try to impose their ideology on you? Can you please quote/refer to any incident/event when tribals tried to influence the rest of Pakistan. Its the talibanisation started by our myopic establishment in the tribal areas which has led to all these issues. Please first think and then write.

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  • Its (stil) the Economy Stupid
    Jul 18, 2012 - 11:06PM

    Thank you USA for giving free polio vaccine to my children and saving their future by getting rid of bad element through drone. You are doing lot more than wht my own government is doing- Silent majority

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  • Hafeez
    Jul 18, 2012 - 11:12PM

    There has been lot of debate over drone strikes. Almost everyone consider them as illegal and inhuman. One of the major reasons given is that lots of innocent lives have been lost. I have a simple question for all. Taliban are against drones, army is against drones, politicians are against drones, majority of Pakistan is against drone, then how come we never see photos/pics of the innocent people killed in drone strikes. I think it is the best way to put USA on backfoot if we propogate all the civilian/innocent casualties and the destruction of infrastructure. This will put USA on very weak moral stance. Another question is, why is that whenever there is a drone strike, the location is cordoned off by the taliban and nobody can enter it without their permission. I mean if the hit location is civilian/innocent, why bother cordoning it off. i would be glad if someone respond to this in an informed way. Thanks

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  • Qaisrani
    Jul 18, 2012 - 11:22PM

    Why there are no drone attacks in Bangladesh or in indonesia???If USA is against Islam then it must bomb them too.Either control your territory or some one else will do it,message is simple.Recommend

  • Jahanzeb Zafar
    Jul 18, 2012 - 11:28PM

    @Raj .. bro you are either intentionally missing the point or are just ignorant. Anyways please enlighten me with the rationale that makes you believe that drone victims are terrorists. If you are educated you must have heard a thing called “innocent until proven guilty”. These people amongst them women and children are being murdered on a suspicion of being a terrorist without any trial. Even the dreaded Nazi’s got a trial. It is a classic case of might is right. If I have a gun and I suspect that you might harm me in future I can kill you is the sort of rationale you are presenting.
    Anyways coming back to the vaccination issue, there was never a problem before spies infiltrated and jeopardized the polio campaign in Pakistan (read my comment above to see how). They are as much to blame if not more for this mess. In terms of your rant about Americans fixing our F16′s and politicians getting treated in US and all is concerned, I don’t know what your point is there.It seems like a classic straw argument to me. These guys are not effected by drones or any direct US hostility. The day US becomes hostile directly towards the Pakistan army or its elite, that is when you can do the comparison and I’m sure they will act in the same way and will not trust anything remotely associated with the US for the fear of their lives.
    In the end if you genuinely care about the topic just put yourself into their shoes for a minute to understand the gravity of the situation. You write USA next to your name so I assume that you live in the US. You guys consider Al Qaeda as your enemy. Now if they were to come and offer medicine to your kids after bombing them wouldn’t you be a least bit concerned regarding their intentions and reject their offer? Sadly our Pakistani government has lost all its credibility and is seen as a US stooge hence the people can’t trust nobody. Again as mentioned before the end to issues like this is not possible until we get out of USA’s war and start rehabilitating our people effected by it genuinely. That will allow us to corner a small criminal militia which disguises as TTP and fix them once and for all.

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  • sohail osman ali
    Jul 18, 2012 - 11:28PM

    May God protect the 240,000 innocent children of Waziristan and keep them immune from polio, now that 200 elders of Waziristan have decided not to vaccinate these defenseless children

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  • Jahanzeb Zafar
    Jul 18, 2012 - 11:36PM

    @Hafeez

    please follow the link to learn about some of the innocent drone victims
    http://www.reprieve.org.uk/investigations/drones/

    Apart from that there have been numerous reports in national and international media regarding the innocent civilians which often don’t get much publicity. Things might change however soon as PTI has approached numerous international journalists and human rights organizations to come and visit the victims in Waziristan at the end of September so stay tuned for more information.

    Also just google drone victims and you will find plenty of data through reliable international sources.

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  • Aussie-Paki
    Jul 18, 2012 - 11:42PM

    Drones are major deterrent for extremists. Do not stop!

    Cowards using children as human shields could not care any less.

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  • Imran Con
    Jul 18, 2012 - 11:53PM

    @Hashmi:
    I can’t get passed the stupidity part of your comment so…

    I don’t see them saying it’s due to him. Drones don’t change a thing about polio vaccination drives. They’re as supposedly untrustworthy while drones are flying as they are when they’re not. Only an idiot could push this on Dr. Afridi. Recommend

  • khan
    Jul 19, 2012 - 12:19AM

    if they don’t want it… its their choice..but the problem its a virus which spreads… i don’t have any sympathy for tribesmen..but the other who can be infected with the disease

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  • Ali
    Jul 19, 2012 - 12:27AM

    Well, I don’t like Taliban and their actions but when Dr.Shakeel Afridi can play with us by organizing fake Polio campaigns than anything could happen !!

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  • Raj - USA
    Jul 19, 2012 - 12:29AM

    @Jahanzeb Zafar:
    I still strongly feel that it is the Army that is responsible for all these. Why can’t the Army doctors not lead the vaccination campaign. They are not interested. They only want to use to further their goals. How can anyone justify on any moral, ethical or legal grounds depriving thousands of children and exposing them to a crippled life. I, like many here, consider these Talibans or Tribal warlords, or whatever they are, as an extension of the Army and that the Army is using or in fact killing these children to further their goals.

    Yes, I am in USA and have been here for many decades. Regarding my caring for the vaccination, I really care about it. I had a tutor who was a gold medalist but was crippled with polio on both legs. He tutored me and because of him I could get out my failing grades. What I am today, I owe it to him. He could not go to work and took up coaching from home and helped many like me, including many of my family members. Unfortunately he died at 55 years age due to the decease he got early in his life.

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  • Hafeez
    Jul 19, 2012 - 12:31AM

    @Jahanzeb Zafar:
    I have visited the website and except three photographs, including that of a destroyed hujra and a kid , I did not not find any photographs which will show victims on the locations (do you have knowledge of any website where Reprieve has all the pics posted). As far the numerous reports are concerned, media is not at all allowed in Waziristan both north and south so how come they get any pictures or objective and true story. And then why is media not allowed to work freely in Waziristan so that civilian/innocent casualties can be reported and build a pressure on USA. If you know of any website which has all the pictures of innocent victims, I would like to see and hopefully it will clear my mind of all the confusion. As far PTI claims are concerned, I don’t believe a single thing they say. An example is that of PTI’s stance against Altaf Hussain and IK’s promises of registering cases against him in UK. Today PTI is fully supported by MQM for their jalsaas in karachi.

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  • Anas Khan
    Jul 19, 2012 - 12:41AM

    No the title should be

    “Pakistan backed millitants forces tribesmen to ban polio vaccination”

    Polio vaccination is not stopped because of any conspiracy but it will be given only if drones are stopped, wow my countrymen what a way to stop drone attacks, and let the drones carry on because it kills viruses more dangerous than Polio.

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  • aqib m
    Jul 19, 2012 - 1:02AM

    @Marxism4Pakistan
    rhetoric statement ….

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  • Qaisrani
    Jul 19, 2012 - 1:02AM

    @Jahanzeb Zafar:
    Donot let your or children of your close associates to be vaccinated because you donot like US policies.Sigh,you will not do it.Hypocrite

    I suggest you better,Why donot you cut your legs to feel the pain which these poor children will feel in future who will have polio due to this non sense.Please do it.

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  • Harry Stone
    Jul 19, 2012 - 1:43AM

    This could reduce the number of future terrorists if large numbers sucome to polio.

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  • Asad Afridi
    Jul 19, 2012 - 2:05AM

    Well it is indeed very very sad to know that children are at risk for not getting polio vaccine. I want to know the reason from the end of North Waziristan locals to vaccine refusal. We must listen to the other side of the story and then take corrective active to resolve the problem.

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  • abdul karim
    Jul 19, 2012 - 2:18AM

    @Ninja: are goverment are so stupit they did lot of mistick in the past .

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  • Omair
    Jul 19, 2012 - 2:43AM

    This is how you shoot yourself in the foot.

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