Polio vaccine scare echoes in K-P Assembly

Opposition MPAs quit standing committees for being denied development funds

Our Correspondent April 24, 2019
K-P Assembly. PHOTO: AFP

PESHAWAR: Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on Tuesday echoed with condemnation of spreading rumours for undermining the polio vaccination campaign and spreading fear among people.

People in Peshawar were led to believe that children of a school have fallen sick after taking anti-polio drops.

The rumour caused riot in Mashokhel area of Badh Bher and a city-wide panic in which exasperated parents brought children to Hayatabad Medical Complex, Lady Reading Hospital, Khyber Teaching Hospital and Maulvi Gee Hospital.

According to official figures more than 25,000 children were brought to healthcare facilities.

Nighat Orakzai on a point of order drew attention of the House towards agitation in Peshawar over reported reaction of polio vaccine in two schools in the outskirts of provincial capital. Following rumours thousands of children were brought to hospitals in Peshawar and other areas of the province, she claimed.

She urged the government to take serious notice of the issue and expose the elements behind the conspiracy.

She also condemned the killing of 14 security personnel in Omara a few days ago by the miscreants.

The assembly session started under the chair of speaker Mushtaq Ghani when the ANP MPA Khushdil Khan on point of order stated that the conspiracy against polio vaccination drive started from Mashokhel in a well-planned manner.

The mechanism of reporting the incident was planned in such a manner that it caused disturbance all over the city. He said the committee formed for investigating the matter should also have representation from the provincial assembly.

Jamaat-e-Islami lawmaker Inyatullah Khan stated that there was lack of planning on of government side. After the incident, parents will be scared to inoculate their children.

Salahuddin Khan of ANP said Mashokhel was a militancy-hit area: “we had made great efforts to convince people of Mashokhel to allows polio campaigns, but such miss communication has created doubts in public.”

He said the MPAs should be made part of the probe committee or they would not accept the report.

ANP Parliamentary Leader Sardar Hussain Babak and Sardar Nalota of PML-N said that government should be made accountable for being unable to control the situation.

Minister for Local Government Shahram Khan Tarakai informed the House that investigation was underway into the incident of alleged polio vaccine reaction in the provincial capital. The elements behind spreading rumours against polio vaccination would be taken to task, he added.

Speaker Mushtaq Ahmed Ghani in his remarks said that the polio vaccine panic earned a bad name for the country. “The nations across the world are says that we in Pakistan could not defeat polio virus.”

Funds distribution

The opposition members of K-P Assembly tendered resignations from standing committees under protest because the government was not releasing development funds for their constituencies.

MMA assembly member Mahmood Khan on point of order stated that government and opposition benches agreed on 65/35 distribution of development funds, but despite assurances the government failed to act.

Opposition leader Akram Khan Durrani stated that opposition members were ignored and only government MPAs were getting funds on directives of CM.

“Being leader of the opposition, I will not take development funds from government until other opposition MPAs get due share for their respective constituencies,” Durrani said.

“The PTI government has particularly ignored southern districts in development funds, don’t make them demand a separate province,” Durrani.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 24th, 2019.

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