PESHAWAR: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Anti-corruption Establishment (ACE) has started investigations of alleged embezzlements of funds donated by the government of United Arab Emirates relating to travelling allowance and dining allowance (TA-DA) for police personnel deployed to protect polio vaccinators.
Instead of the government of Pakistan or the provincial authorities, the UAE government donates funds for police personnel deputed to protect polio workers during anti-polio campaigns, but instead of reaching the beneficiaries they somehow disappear.
National Accountability Bureau Peshawar took notice of the alleged embezzlements following anonymous complaints by officials who walk with polio workers going door to door to administer oral vaccination for the crippling disease.
NAB officials told The Express Tribune that the bureau initiated inquiry and its officials discovered that the amount in question was less than Rs100 million, therefore it was not in their domain. “NAB is designated to investigate and catch mega corruption cases of over Rs100 million,” an official said.
Subsequently, NAB officials said, they referred the case to K-P Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) adding that ACE has started investigations into the alleged embezzlements against Bannu Police.
Official sources at ACE informed that the amount was released for police personnel deployed to protect polio workers from attacks by anti-state elements.
In the past almost 45 people including polio vaccinators and the cops protecting them have been killed in the province.
They informed that the funds were released by the secretary home and tribal affairs to the commissioners and then to the deputy commissioners.
Each police constable on duty to protect polio vaccinators is entitled to Rs250 daily allowance and a supervisor for every 20 constables was supposed to get Rs500 per day.
The amount however neither reached the police constables nor to the supervisors since according to police department officials, the amount was spent on constables’ and supervisors’ transportation and lunch.
Police officials however stated that it was repeatedly communicated to the police headquarters to directly release the amount to police constables as well as supervisors and let them decide to spend the amount since the decisions should be made by the ones for whom the amount was released.
They said that the case was brought before K-P NAB last year but was now being investigated by ACE which would take it to its logical conclusion.
There are few more less dangerous jobs in Pakistan than being a polio vaccinator. In the past, many vaccinators and policemen escorting them have been killed in separate incidents around the country.
During the height of such attacks, people were led to believe that the vaccine was a ploy of Western powers to sterilize the muslims. Besides, the issue of CIA using a vaccination campaign to locate OBL, gave non-state actors a reason to declare war on vaccinators and the policemen protecting them.
The situation has improved and so has awareness among the people. As of today only three polio cases have been reported from K-P this year.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 27th, 2018.