Due to the volatile security situation, around 40 teachers in Swabi refused to take part in a polio immunisation campaign that started on Tuesday.
The group of 40 teachers, led by All Teachers Association Swabi chapter President Muhammad Tariq Khan, in a meeting with Swabi Deputy Commissioner (DC) Capt (retd) Kamran Ahmad Afridi on Wednesday decided they would not take part in the vaccination campaign.
Tariq told the DC attacks on polio teams had caused several teachers to complain about the law and order situation. He said while the teachers believed it was possible to vaccinate children in Swabi, they refused to administer drops to children in Pabini, Boqa, Jhanda, Kund and surrounding areas, stating police could not provide acceptable security.
Tariq further told the DC it was not the duty of education department employees to vaccinate children. “The health department should find a way to solve this issue as teachers are supposed to teach as opposed to vaccinating children in a threatening environment.”
Tariq also said on June 25, Swabi DPO Mian Saeed Ahmad had allowed teachers participating in the drive to carry weapons for their safety. “How is it possible for workers to carry weapons and vaccinate children at the same time?” questioned Tariq.
DC Afridi assured teachers they would be provided strict security arrangements, adding he would discuss the issue with the DPO and secure additional police personnel for the area.
This is not the first time teachers in Swabi have refused to take part in a polio campaign. On June 16, some teachers decided not to take part in the drives when two of their colleagues were killed by militants in Union Council Pabini. Similarly, on January 29 elite force personnel Munsif Khan, who was escorting a polio team in Gullo Dheri, was killed by militants, while on January 1 seven workers of a non-governmental organisation were gunned down by unidentified armed men near Sheikh Dheri, Chauta Lahore tehsil.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 29th, 2013.