Ulema conference: Sabotage of polio drive blamed on Dr Afridi

Published: June 7, 2013
IIU president speaks at the international conference on ‘polio eradication’. PHOTO: NNI

IIU president speaks at the international conference on ‘polio eradication’. PHOTO: NNI


Declaring the killing of polio workers ‘un-Islamic’ and ‘inhumane’, speakers at the Ulema conference on Thursday also held Dr Shakeel Afridi responsible for the murder of polio workers and for depriving 260,000 children of polio drops. 

They were speaking at the concluding session of a two-day international conference at the International Islamic University (IIU). The conference is a follow-up on the action plan recommended by Muslim scholars at a regional consultation, held in March. The conference aimed to draw up strategies to effectively overcome the social and political challenges to eradicating polio.

They declared Dr Afridi a traitor and urged the government to pursue litigation against him for causing irreparable damage to the polio vaccination programme, particularly in the FATA region.

The scholars also strongly condemned the brutal killings and urged the government to investigate into the matter, find the culprits behind the killing of polio workers and compensate the families of the victims.

Pakistan Ulema Council chairman Maulana Tahir Ashrafi read out the Islamabad Declaration – a pledge to ensure a healthy future for the Muslim children.

On behalf of all the participating scholars, Ashrafi expressed concern over the reported cases of polio in certain parts of Pakistan.

“We believe that it is the prime responsibility of the government to restore permanent peace in the border areas so that welfare work may be resumed in these regions,” reads the declaration.

Ashrafi also said that after consultation with health, education and religious experts as well as politicians, the conference reached the conclusion that the polio vaccine used in Pakistan is effective, does not contain any harmful substance and does not affect fertility. “Hence a platform will be provided to the people of Pakistan to enable them to get detailed and well-researched information and clear their misconception about the vaccine,” he added.

Dr Atta Ur Rehman, president of the Inter-Faith Religious Council, Quetta, read the second part of the declaration stating that all efforts would be made to convey a strong and effective message to parents to vaccinate their children.

The participation of religious leaders at district and union council levels will be ensured to support anti-polio drives and they will be motivated to play an active role in disseminating the message.

It was also announced that a National Advisory Board for Polio Eradication will be established in Pakistan and its secretariat will be in the International Islamic University.  IIU President Ahmed AL Yousaf Al Darwesh will be the President of the Advisory Board and IIU’s Dawa academy director Dr Imtiaz Zafar will be the Vice President. It will have three technical members and Maulana Samiul Haq will also be its active member. The first meeting of the board will be held before June 25 this year.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 7th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (20)

  • Jun 7, 2013 - 11:22AM

    What about the use of DNA testing in rape cases? Did they not have the answers to such a fundamental and monolithic problem? Salams


  • Saadullah Awan
    Jun 7, 2013 - 12:12PM

    Oh please just shut up. Don’t blame people when you know the reason why these kids aren’t receiving proper medical attention and vaccination is cause the people you secretly support and fund were shooting the doctors and relief workers heads off


  • Uzair
    Jun 7, 2013 - 12:33PM

    A number of points. First, why do we need the approval of these ulema who know NOTHING about science and medicine? Second, to blame Dr Afridi is deceitful at best and plain evil at worst. Consider the facts:
    – The vaccination program he was running was for Hepatitis B, not for polio.
    – Long before Dr Afridi there already was resistance to polio vaccination in the tribal areas, on the basis of local ulema declaring it a conspiracy to make the people infertile.
    – Not just in Pakistan but in countries like Nigeria there are religious extremists who have been opposing, and committing murder, to prevent polio vaccination*. Where does Dr Afridi fit into that situation?

    The simple truth is that the killings are all done by the same extremists that love to use murder to “solve” any “problem” and differences of opinion they have with others, whether those others be Shia, pro-government, or people trying to save the lives of others by giving them polio vaccination.

    See http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/feb/08/polio-workers-nigeria-shot-dead

  • Mj
    Jun 7, 2013 - 1:17PM


    Well stated. I posted a similar comment but was not cleared by the moderators.


  • Rex Minor
    Jun 7, 2013 - 2:25PM


    You do not need the approval of ulema for any thing; but if someone objects to a certain action then it gives people the opportuniy to take a pause and think, yes just think about people who act differently!! This is what Darwin did not do to think and instead of looking for simalarities between the primates and the humans, he ignored the dissimilar characteristics between the two! Anyone with a healthy mind must ask about the means CIA uses to obtain the coordinates for their devices including Drones? The answer would be the implant of little gadgets in the territories beside the use of other technologies. Polio program workers and doctors and those who implant tags on wild animals are some of the means they utilise an most of the time without the consent of the career? Did you mention science, then you should also know how science is used?

    Rex Minor


  • LOK
    Jun 7, 2013 - 2:27PM

    To all ulemas: pls leave us alone.


  • Final Solution
    Jun 7, 2013 - 2:39PM

    Well said. Also Iodized Salt was labeled as a western conspiracy to make Muslims infertile. As a result there was a surge in cases of goiter.Recommend

  • Abdullah
    Jun 7, 2013 - 2:55PM

    The sooner the day comes, when state and religion separate, that is the day, when we can finally stop being so blinded by these religious men, who want to control every aspect of our lives. No more blasphemy cases,no more extremism,no more confusion over looking for four witnesses or using dna, no more children being abused in madrassas, no more abusing religion for personal gains!


  • shahzad
    Jun 7, 2013 - 3:22PM

    I suggest an effective use of vaccine card with help of government hospitals. Each child must have vaccine card which must have all record of vaccine given to child with date stamps and serial numbers (verifiable in system) of vaccine given. Strict corruption free processes must be adopted by health officials so that no one gets vaccine card completed illegally. then this card should be linked to all processes like domicile ID card.


  • Omair
    Jun 7, 2013 - 3:23PM

    Such shameful behavior from so called Ulema. Blaming an individual instead of propagating the importance of polio vaccination.


  • MHK
    Jun 7, 2013 - 3:25PM

    I just dont understand why do the so called “educated elite” HATE the Ulemas so much. Even if they are supporting the polio vaccination program, people still hate them


  • MHK
    Jun 7, 2013 - 3:28PM

    And why do some people forget that the Ulemas have a strong following in the rural areas and their support of the polio program will surely benefit the whole country


  • Indian007
    Jun 7, 2013 - 4:07PM

    My comments are also sometimes rejected by moderators although valid and reasonable. I don’t know what’s going through their minds.


  • Bhai Log
    Jun 7, 2013 - 4:18PM

    I can’t understand what Dr. Shakeel Afridi has to do with the killings of polio workers ? Don’t they have enough courage to name Taliban directly?


  • Unbelievable
    Jun 7, 2013 - 8:00PM

    USA used same tactic to hunt down drug cartel members in South America – those countries didn’t complain and it hasn’t harmed immunizations efforts. Afridi’s only crime was exposing Pakistan as a duplicitous country that was harboring the most wanted terrorist on the planet.


  • Rex Minor
    Jun 7, 2013 - 11:51PM

    Oaklaham is also in the USA, where Marjuna is now grown and sold in defiance of the federal law!
    No need to travel to India for KIFF.

    Rex Minor.


  • Tamur
    Jun 7, 2013 - 11:53PM

    @MHK: Maulvis are hated as they are narrow minded and refuse to understand/study any other scientific knowledge. Then they make statements based on their own fantasies combined with flawed religious interpretations. Taking the example of the recent statement by a Mullah that DNA evidence is inadmissable in court. Does the Maulvi know what DNA is and the science behind it? Maulvis have refused to advance their knowledge and adapt Islam with advancements of the 21st century. Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH) Encouraged His followers to seek knowedge even if they had to go to China. Instead our Maulvis are trying to take use back to the 7th century. If anyone challenges them, they hide behind the flawed law of blasphamy. So why shouldn’t one hate the Maulvis?


  • Tamur
    Jun 7, 2013 - 11:54PM

    Why can’t this panel condemn the Taliban who have been killing polio workers and the security men protecting them?


  • Uzair
    Jun 17, 2013 - 4:34PM

    Side effects of polio vaccine has been deleted from google and other sites … it will effect your reproductive cells..


  • Uzair
    Jun 17, 2013 - 4:37PM

    Side effects of polio vaccine has been deleted from several sites .. it will effect your reproductive cells …


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