In yet another setback to the polio eradication campaign in the country, the Mullah Nazir group in Wana subdivision of South Waziristan banned polio vaccination in the agency on Monday till the United States halts all drone strikes in the tribal region.
According to the Taliban pamphlets distributed in Wana, Western powers were running a spy network in the region in the garb of immunisation. The leaflet went on to cite the example of Dr Shakil Afridi, the doctor who helped the CIA hunt down Osama bin Laden by conducting a fake polio vaccination programme in Abbottabad.
Earlier, warlord Hafiz Gul Bahadur banned the administration of oral polio vaccine to children in North Waziristan, also demanding cessation of US drone attacks.
The pamphlet went on to compare polio drops to sugar-coated poison, adding that Western powers had never been loyal to Muslims.
“If they [the United States and its allies] were so sincere with the Muslims, then why did they bomb us so mercilessly,” the pamphlet said.
The distributed message also gauged US sincerity, questioning why two million children had suffered in Iraq due to the lack of medicines in the 90s, referring to US sanctions on the Saddam Hussein regime.
Furthermore, the leaflet also discussed the psychological effect drone strikes have had on children in the tribal region.
“On the one hand, they are killing innocent children in drone strikes, while on the other hand they are saving their lives by vaccinating them … it’s like a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” the pamphlet said.
The decision to ban polio vaccination was taken by the higher council of North Waziristan Mujahideen, according to the pamphlet, which also warned all polio teams to bring their campaign to a close or accept responsibility for any future mishap.
A local resident, requesting anonymity, told The Express Tribune, that the pamphlet requested parents to avoid the vaccination of their children till drone strikes continued in Waziristan.
There has been no official reaction from the political administration or security forces till the filing of this report. (With additional input from Zulfiqar Ali)
Published In The Express Tribune, June 26th, 2012.
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