PM Imran vows to raise Kashmir issue at every forum

Published: August 22, 2019
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Prime Minister Imran Khan. PHOTO: PID

Prime Minister Imran Khan. PHOTO: PID

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Wednesday that the Indian government was trampling all the humanitarian principles and the international law, as it oppressed the people in occupied Kashmir.

According to Express News, the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf has decided to highlight the Kashmir issue at all the international forums to give a tough time to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi internationally.

During a meeting with PTI Overseas Secretary Abdullah Riar, the prime minister directed the party leaders and workers to hold protest in New York against Modi on the eve of the United Nations General Assembly session next month.

He said that the Modi government had no justification for enforcing dominance over occupied Kashmir in the presence of Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreements. He vowed to raise the voice of Kashmiris at every forum by becoming an ambassador of the Kashmiri people.

The prime minister directed the PTI to mobilise community members and the human rights organisations for the protest against the Indian prime minister on the occasion of the UN General Assembly session in New York.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday expressed serious concern over the recent spike in polio cases in the country as he directed authorities to launch effective awareness and immunisation campaigns at federal and provincial levels.

The prime minister was chairing a high-level meeting on polio eradication called at the PM Office to discuss emergency measures to combat the fresh onslaught of the crippling disease whose rising cases have set alarm bells ringing in and outside the country.

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal, Special Assistant on National Health Services Dr Zafar Mirza, PM’s focal person on polio eradication Babar Bin Ata and the chief secretaries of Punjab and Sindh gave a briefing on the situation.

Canadian High Commissioner Wendy Gilmour, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Deputy Director Polio Dr Tim Peterson, the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Dr Palitha Gunarsthna Mahipala, Unicef’s Dr John Agbor and the Pakistan Army’s Engineer-in-Chief Lt Gen Moazzam Ejaz also attended the meeting.

According to an official statement, the prime minister said polioeradication is the top-most priority of the government as the disease may badly affect the future generation.     He laid stress on establishing a robust Ehsaas-Polio eradication partnership for the synergised implementation of the two vital programmes.

Babar Bin Atta briefed the meeting about the recent polio cases and the future strategy for polio eradication. He also updated members about the report of International Monitoring Board for the year 2017-18, identifying loopholes in the strategy at that time.

These loopholes, he said, led to rising of polio cases in some parts of the country, especially Bannu Division.  He said the new strategy is based on four new pillars including a shift from push to pull, from disease control to eradication, ownership at the highest level and accountability at the operational level.

Atta also highlighted various measures being taken for perception management including engagement with social media platforms to counter anti-vaccine propaganda, involving mainstream media for a mass awareness campaign, the establishment of 24/7 call centre and publicising environment or human cases.

Chief ministers of the K-P and Balochistan and the chief secretaries of Punjab and Sindh apprised the meeting of measures taken for polio eradication in their respective provinces. The Pakistan Army representative assured full support to polio teams in their efforts to reach out children in far-flung areas.

Representatives of international partners and donors also assured the government of their continued cooperation to the Government of Pakistan in its polio eradication mission.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Dr Tim Peterson presented a letter of appreciation from the US philanthropist and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates to the prime minister.

In the letter dated August 16, 2019, Gates offered support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for eradicating polio in Pakistan. The billionaire pledged to continue working with the relevant authorities in Pakistan to eradicate polio virus from the country.

“Currently, I’m concerned with the polio situation in Pakistan […] Large numbers of children in key reservoirs continue to be missed during polio campaigns, in large part due to suboptimal management and increased community resistance to vaccination – all of which is allowing the virus to build and continue circulating,” Gates wrote.

“At the request of the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC), the foundation’s polio team provided support to an independent management review of Pakistan’s polio program in the high priority districts and those contributing to polio transmission, starting in Karachi, Rawalpindi, and Peshawar.

“Our team is working with the independent management review team and the NEOC to finalise recommendations and develop an implementation plan slated to start before the low season campaigns in November,” the letter added.

The Microsoft co-founder requested PM Khan to endorse the recommendations and implementation plan prepared following the management’s review. The letter said in June, a meeting was held with Sania Nishtar regarding the government’s poverty alleviation programme.

Gates expressed willingness in devising long-term plans regarding the poverty alleviation programme and establishing a Programme Delivery Unit to help implement the Ehsaas Programme’s financial inclusion, nutrition, and other development objectives.

Polio cases this year have already exceeded the total numbers of the previous three years. Despite the government’s anti-polio measures, 53 cases have been reported across the country with 41 patients from K-P, five from Punjab, four from Balochistan and three from Sindh.

Twenty (20) polio cases were reported in Pakistan in 2016, 8 in 2017 and 12 in 2018.

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