K-P police arrests 471 parents for refusing polio vaccine

By AFP
Published: March 2, 2015
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PHOTO: AFP

PHOTO: AFP

PESHAWAR: Police in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa have arrested more than 450 parents for refusing to vaccinate their children against polio, officials said on Monday.

Riaz Khan Mehsud, deputy commissioner of Peshawar told AFP that 471 parents were detained and sent to jail for refusing the vaccine.

Read: Arrest warrants issued over refusal of polio vaccination: K-P police

Pakistan is one of only three countries in the world where polio remains endemic but years of efforts to stamp it out have been badly hit by reluctance from parents, opposition from militants and attacks on immunisation teams.

The virus is most prevalent in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and a fresh immunisation drive began on Monday aimed at vaccinating more than 2.7 million children in the province.

The government declared “war” on polio last year and Mehsud said officials would brook no refusal from parents.

“There is no mercy, we have decided to deal with the refusal cases with iron hands. Anyone who refuses (the vaccine) will be sent to jail,” Mehsud said.

Those arrested on Monday were from suburban areas of Peshawar where militant groups regularly attack police and polio workers and where opposition to vaccination is relatively strong.

Mehsud said authorities have issued 1,000 blank arrest warrants so refuseniks could be dealt with swiftly.

Muhammad Mumtaz, another senior official, confirmed the arrests and told AFP that the detainees would “be freed only after a written assurance and providing two guarantors” to ensure their children get the drops.

Taliban militants claim that the polio vaccination drive is a front for espionage or a conspiracy to sterilise Muslims. They stepped up their attacks after a Pakistani doctor was recruited by the CIA to set up a hepatitis immunisation drive as part of efforts to track down Al-Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden.

Read: Dr Shakil Afridi thrown to the wolves: lawyer

Last year, the number of polio cases recorded in Pakistan soared to 306, the highest in 14 years.

At least nine new cases have so far been detected in 2015.

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Reader Comments (7)

  • Waqar Omar
    Mar 2, 2015 - 5:58PM

    Well done KPK Police, this is the right way to eliminate polio from Pakistan.Recommend

  • Muhammad Saad Khan
    Mar 2, 2015 - 6:14PM

    They should be produced before Military Courts straight!Recommend

  • Omar Malik
    Mar 2, 2015 - 6:18PM

    Excellent way to go about it. These parents should only be released from jail once their child has been given the polio drops. Its sad, that we have to come down to this level. The ‘fake’ vaccination campaigns by various international governments have certainly not helped the cause. But we have to take charge and take control of eradicating this disease within our borders.Recommend

  • shahid
    Mar 2, 2015 - 7:17PM

    Excellent KP Govt and police. Recommend

  • abc
    Mar 2, 2015 - 8:11PM

    This is the way to deal with all the culprits with out discrimination. Recommend

  • S.R.H. Hashmi
    Mar 2, 2015 - 10:24PM

    With the Polio cases last year having reached 306, being the highest in fourteen years, there would have been no excuse for the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government not to get tough with those who refuse polio vaccinations. However, I am glad that instead of just talking tough, and hurling threats to deal with ‘iron hands’, the KP government has actually started dealing firmly and has already arrested and jailed 471 parents who refused polio vaccinations to their children.

    Religious scholars of repute have already declared that polio vaccines contain no harmful ingredients or any element which could be considered to be against the religion. As such, there is absolutely no reason for people to refuse to get their children immunized against polio.

    The people refusing polio vaccines are being not only unreasonable, but indeed extremely cruel to their children. Through their stubbornness, they are unnecessarily exposing their loved ones to the risk of being disabled for life, with no profession or vocation left for them except begging, in addition to life-long dependence on others. And while they will be gone, their children will continue, not to live but just to exist in that pathetic condition, cursing them all the time for not taking one simple step of getting them immunized against polio, especially when it did not even require them to spend big money and the service was available at their door, free of cost.

    I hope other affected provinces also follow the excellent example set by KP.

    Karachi Recommend

  • Rex Minor
    Mar 3, 2015 - 3:05AM

    Riaz Khan Mehsud, deputy commissioner of Peshawar told AFP that 471 parents were detained and sent to jail for refusing the vaccination of their children.in KPK
    One wonders from such pronouncements, if there is a democracy in Pakistan or is it still being ruled by the colonial beurocratic structures of the army, commissioners and police chiefs?

    Rex MinorRecommend

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