Targeting polio workers

Published: December 19, 2012

A rescue worker checks blood-stained forms which belonging to a female worker shot by gunmen in Karachi December 18, 2012. PHOTO: REUTERS

Who would have thought that being a polio worker would turn out to be one of the most hazardous occupations in the country? Six polio workers, including five women, were gunned down in cold blood in Karachi and Peshawar over the last couple of days, leading the World Health Organisation to suspend its campaign, at least in Karachi. Thanks to the murderous actions of extremists, a disease that had been almost completely eradicated is now coming back with a vengeance and hundreds of thousands of children could be at risk.

The resurgence of polio can be traced back to Taliban radio campaigns in Swat and the tribal areas to convince the local population that polio vaccinations are part of a nefarious Western campaign to sterilise our population. The government pushback, which consisted of appointing cricketer Shahid Afridi as an ambassador to convince people that polio vaccinations were badly needed and an expensive media outreach programme seem to have had little success. The deaths in Karachi only serve to prove that those involved in efforts to eradicate polio are no less than soldiers in the frontline of a battlefield.

It is hard to see what else the government can do to fight back. All the money in the world will not be sufficient to fight back against the Taliban’s propaganda. The solution, as always, is to eliminate the Taliban so that their narrative, too, is destroyed. This requires political will on the part of a reluctant military and civilian government. If we do not get serious about the militancy threat, international organisations might abandon Pakistan and the polio endemic will only get worse. We have tried fighting ignorance with reason and that has only led to further unnecessary deaths. Beefed-up security can only do so much to protect vulnerable workers and ensure children get the vaccinations they need. While such reactive steps are needed, they must be accompanied by an aggressive military campaign to root out the Taliban.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 19th, 2012.

Reader Comments (15)

  • Fahad
    Dec 19, 2012 - 2:45AM

    Isn’t the Army paid to tprotect the country? What is it doing to protect the lives everyday from these barbaric animals?

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  • shakrullah
    Dec 19, 2012 - 2:53AM

    @Editorial

    Yes , we have to root out the Taliban for our survival . But before we wipe them out
    from North Waziristan , we have to root them out from our minds ——minds
    of the leadership of some of our mainstream parties .

    Recommend

  • Yoghurt lover
    Dec 19, 2012 - 4:31AM

    This is a clear result of gun culture.

    Pakistan did not control guns in the 60s/70s/80s to be able to have extremists who could cause damage to India.

    Today it is backfiring.

    Such incidents are good. That’s the only way Pakistan will ever learn.

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  • Aviator
    Dec 19, 2012 - 6:55AM

    It seems that many Pakistanis do not want to be protected from a crippling disease. Fair enough, one might say, that is their own free choice.

    However, as Pakistan is now one of only four countries in the world still to have this disease, it is now beginning to re-infect countries which had successfully eliminated the disease, in particular China.

    So the TTP and all those who decide not to get vaccinated are being extremely selfish by risking the health and well being of neighboring countries.

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  • Polpot
    Dec 19, 2012 - 7:15AM

    @Yoghurt lover: “Such incidents are good. That’s the only way Pakistan will ever learn.”
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Your heartlessness matches that of the Taliban.
    Do you know at least two of the victims were teenaged girls , the sole breadwinners for their family?
    I can only say shame on you.

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  • nathan
    Dec 19, 2012 - 7:42AM

    Mollycoddling of Taliban has to stop. Politicians have to take a firm line against Taliban with no ifs and buts about good Taliban.
    Dear Imran Khan , Do you still want to negotiate with Taliban?

    Nathan

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  • Mirza
    Dec 19, 2012 - 8:41AM

    @shakrullah:
    You have hit it ritght at the head. There is a little Talib in most of us especially in our rightwing leaders and their parties. Unless we take that out nothing can work.
    Regards,
    M

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  • Diogenes
    Dec 19, 2012 - 9:34AM

    They’ve targeted your children, your old, your Shia, your women, your progressives. And now those who work to ensure that children do not grow up as cripples.

    At what point will you remove the Taliban from your country?

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  • Arifq
    Dec 19, 2012 - 12:56PM

    Polio workers killed in Karachi of all the places! Barbarians at the gate yet there are no panic buttons being pressed!

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  • sars
    Dec 19, 2012 - 1:07PM

    Lets forget about polio for now and target the extermists completely with all our resources. Once weve eradicated all of them , we’ll think about diseases and education and progress.

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  • asad
    Dec 19, 2012 - 1:21PM

    those in the known should know better. this was a warning sign for the delimitation of karachi constituency as ordered by the SCP. one particular party would do anything to curtail that process and in that pursuit they murdered their own. no one would go door to door for the voter verification in the so called no go areas after witnessing the daylight murder of polio workers.

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  • ahmed41
    Dec 19, 2012 - 6:05PM

    “—– The solution, as always, is to eliminate the Taliban so that their narrative, too, is destroyed. —”

    “——must be accompanied by an aggressive military campaign to root out the Taliban.—”

    No !! This is easier said than done.

    If religious extremists are pressurized and sought to be physically eliminated, it will backfire.

    That will be like a wounded cobra whose back is to the WALL.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    See this comment :

    “—-
    shakrullah
    15 hours ago
    Reply

    @Editorial

    Yes , we have to root out the Taliban for our survival . But before we wipe them out
    from North Waziristan , we have to root them out from our minds ——minds
    of the leadership of some of our mainstream parties . “

    The fight against extremism is a battle first against the MIND of the ultra-right folk.

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  • Yostupidity lover
    Dec 19, 2012 - 10:21PM

    No, such incidents are not good. The death of innocent teenaged Pakistanis is not good. Turning everything into a shallow juvenile India-Pakistan comment war is not good. Clearing your cache to like your own comments is not good. Stupidity – NOT GOOD.

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  • Yoghurt lover
    Dec 19, 2012 - 10:46PM

    @Yostupidity lover

    Hehehehe!

    You are funny albeit stupid. But, let me confess, I already like you.

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  • Yostupidity lover
    Dec 19, 2012 - 11:42PM

    A terrible, pitiful reply, @Yoghurt lover. I expected no better. For someone who sits on the website of a foreign newspaper everyday, waiting to pounce and troll any article, even one as heart wrenching as this, you have some gall to call me stupid. Well if anything you are a couch potato and severely in need of recreational pursuits and dare I say, a life – but making personal comments is not my strong suit, and I donnot wish to offend the moderators.

    I’ll tell you what’s stupid. Nationalism. A quality you are brimming with. The ability to string together a few words and feign sarcasm doesn’t save you from being pathetically stupid yourself. I’ll say no more. Regards.

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