In a bid to sabotage the polio campaign, unidentified culprits pasted a pamphlet with an anti-polio vaccine message on the wall of a mosque in District Headquarters Hospital (DHQ) Charsadda. A doctor at the hospital later discredited the message as “propoganda”. Polio campaigns have remained controversial in the region where they have been banned in tribal areas and linked to both drones and the CIA.
The Urdu pamphlet read that the polio vaccine was a “conspiracy by Unicef”. Quoting one Dr Aroona from Nigeria, the anonymous author not only claimed that the vaccination affected the reproductive capabilities of people, but said it had been banned in the United States, Britain and Canada.
The pamphlet stated, “This message is not by some hardliner or maulvi, but has been made public by Dr Aroona.” By Wednesday morning, a large number of people read the pamphlet, which was removed later by the police.
Charsadda DHQ Superintendent Dr Muhammad Nawaz said he was unaware of any such pamphlets. However, he rejected claims that the polio vaccine had an adverse effect on humans. Nawaz said Pakistan should be grateful to the World Health Organization and Unicef for their roles against the crippling virus.
WHO and UNICEF also played a key role in eradicating smallpox and other diseases.
Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl leader and Charsadda MNA, Maulana Gohar Shah, told The Express Tribune this was an act by “miscreants”.
He added criminals had been spreading propaganda against the polio vaccine for a long time. “Mosques are a place of worship and pasting such pamphlets on their walls is wrong,” he asserted. He said the posters were an attempt to spread fear and terror among the locals.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 6th, 2014.