Dawn News

Doors for polio vaccines closed in Waziristan

Doors for polio vaccines closed in Waziristan. – AP Photo

MIRANSHAH: Pakistani tribesmen endorsed a Taliban ban on polio vaccinations Wednesday, closing the door to the prospect of any child being vaccinated in North Waziristan as part of a nationwide campaign.

Officials had pinned their last hopes of inoculating children in the northwestern district on talks with tribesmen, which were successively delayed until Wednesday, the last day of the nationwide campaign.

“Polio vaccination will be banned until drone attacks are stopped,” tribal elder Qadir Khan told a gathering of more than 200 elders and Islamic scholars in Miranshah, the main town of North Waziristan.

“Drones martyr so many children, while polio afflicts one or two out of hundreds of thousands,” said tribal elder Maamoor Khan. North Waziristan administrator Siraj Ahmed Khan said he had sought to convince the tribesmen to accept the vaccinations for the disease, which leaves children crippled for life.

“Polio is rampant in tribal areas and government desires to prevent its spread,” Khan told the meeting.

The polio battle exemplifies the government's limited writ over the tribal belt, which Washington has called the most dangerous region on Earth as a stronghold of Taliban and al Qaeda.

Pakistani warlord Hafiz Gul Bahadur, whose followers are fighting Western troops in Afghanistan, and the Pakistani Taliban banned vaccinations in North and South Waziristan, risking the health of 240,000 children.

They demanded an end to US drone strikes and condemned the campaign as a cover for espionage. A Pakistani doctor was jailed in May after helping the CIA find Osama bin Laden using a hepatitis vaccination programme.

Officials said that a further 110,000 children in the tribal district of Khyber also risked going without the vaccine, because of fighting between government troops and warlord Mangal Bagh.

The prime minister's office told AFP that the campaign would be extended until Thursday and Friday in the rest of Pakistan, but said there had been “no change” on the situation in Waziristan.

The highly infectious disease affects mainly the under-fives and can cause paralysis in a matter of hours. Some cases can be fatal. The Lancet medical journal has said vaccination problems last year led to Pakistan's highest number of polio cases in a decade, 198, compared to 144 in 2010.

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Comments (41) Closed

Jul 18, 2012 03:34pm
How dare these terrorists do this to small kids? This goes to show that TTP or anyone else affilated with them are no good irritants. They have simply held these small children hostage if their demands are not met. A justafied cause for their struggle? I THINK NOT! Pak Army needs to operate in those areas and wipe them out!
Jul 18, 2012 03:33pm
Everyone want to get into here and there, come on, why not condemn Taliban for non-nonsensical move? Do you mean that they did not ban Polio campaign and this is all USA's propaganda and in fact the kids are being treated as regular????????? This is the problem with our nation, ignore ground realities on hypothesis!
Jul 18, 2012 03:10pm
It is like pointing a gun at one's children to demand that your neighbour quite his own job. Holding one's own children hostage - such wisdom.
Sarfraz Khan
Jul 18, 2012 03:12pm
Remove these jirgas immediately! No 'scholar' or 'elder' would use children as hostages in this war so let quit calling them that. No Pakistani child deserves to live a life of disability.
Jul 18, 2012 03:26pm
WOW America is doing favor to our children. First they make them orphans then help them save their health. Is that what they did at Abbaottabad by collecting blood samples? Who are they going to kill in Waziristan? may be pro-Pakistani groups/
Jul 18, 2012 03:48pm
Jul 18, 2012 03:47pm
Nation's future at risk.. every one cares but no one dares, that's Pakistan for you.
Saad (DXB)
Jul 18, 2012 03:52pm
Hey Baniya.. Who you calling a Paki??
Jul 18, 2012 03:53pm
Children are Nations' future ... They are at risk .. every one cares but no one dares..
Jul 18, 2012 02:38pm
What an intelligent decision. True leaders of Wasiritan . Playing with the life of infants. and they are proud muslims of the land of pure. No other people from the entire humanity can take this kind of decision. Pakis show some nerve and clean your backyard before bashing at my comment
Jul 18, 2012 02:36pm
US propaganda at the best. Now they want to break into Waziristan under the pretense of polio. Remember how they did that in Abbottabad?
Jul 18, 2012 02:38pm
I wonder how much Dawn is being paid for this Polio campaign, may be as much as $100,000???
Jul 18, 2012 03:15pm
Only educated people think that their child's health is USA's responsibility. On one hand you produce 10 kids and on the other hand you blame USA for not getting your kids the two drops. USA will never stop the drones. Its your responsibility that your kids remain. Everyone knows by now how much USA values human life in Pakistan. Please don't be just literate, get educated. Can someone please pass the above message to Taliban
Jul 18, 2012 03:01pm
I don't get it! What is the relation between polio drops & drones? Why to risk the kids for whatever the reason may be? If drones kill x number of people and polio kills y number of people, the total killed after this decision will be x+y. Can't govt train some local educated tribesman to administer the drops.
Jul 18, 2012 02:30pm
200 ELDERS and Islamic SCHOLARS !!!!! is this how elders and scholars handle their future generations.....I feel so sorry for these children who are innocent and have committed no crime but they are the ones who have no health facilities no education no future.......Please continue your politics and ruin your future with your own hands and then blame AMERICA for all the evil .........
Jul 18, 2012 03:37pm
Being a Pakistani I must confirm that these barbarians have no sympathy for children. They will kill them or get them killed and then lighten their conscious by believing that they are in heavens. If this is the case then why not kill the kids as soon as they are born, they will still go directly to heaven. This is what was happening when Islam spread in Arab 1400 years ago and Islam condemned and stopped it. The irony of the time is that now the same is being done under the banner of so called ISLAM........
Jul 18, 2012 02:40pm
Can these elders do some hunger strike rather than playing with the infants lives? They can't since hunger pains
Jul 18, 2012 04:33pm
what they are saying that on one hand govt is worried about our children being crippled with disease (which is small number) and on the other hand govt is allowing drone attacks on masses to be dead and crippled (with out legs and arms). So, is govt really trying to save the children here or its just a hypocarcy on govts part so they can somehow get more money on poor people name. Thankyou but no thankyou.
Jul 18, 2012 04:14pm
Why don't Pakistanis stand and cheer what was done in Abbottabad? I don't understand how killing OBL can be deemed anything other than a blessing. Pak mishandled the reaction to the incident and continues to try to save face. Face it: you are either with us in the war on terror and applaud OBLs assassination or you are against us. I think it is pretty clear Pak is not a US ally and I wish the US would start treating Pak as the enemy they have proven themselves to be.
Jul 18, 2012 04:10pm
Its outrageous! Wonder why the drones are sparing these warlords - Gul and Co.. They are a hindrance to the peace and they should be the recipients of the drone - truly!
Shahzad Kazi
Jul 18, 2012 02:57pm
This is the height of illiteracy and ignorance. No wonder people in the tribal areas are still living in the dark ages. Drone attacks have nothing to do with polio vaccination. Vaccination is for the good of their own children and by using a drone attack excuse, the tribal elders are putting their own children at risk.
Amir Maseed
Jul 19, 2012 10:54am
Dark Ages, it is state policy to keep them in dark ages.This is a outcome of state policy towards the Pashtun people. The Tribal elders are just a gang of Taliban supporters who have probably had their own children vaccinized but refuse to do it for others. It is Pakistan who refuses to remove FCR and prohibits political parties from working in the tribal areas If you want the root of the problem, look at the Pakistani government.
Sanjeev Mishra
Jul 18, 2012 02:25pm
It shows the perverseness of these people. What's the crime of innocent lives suffer entire life? There is no hope for these people
Jul 18, 2012 03:24pm
I now see that drone strikes are probably the best way to rid Pakistan of these horrible warlords who would sacrifice their children for political purposes and then attack NATO troops in Afganistan.
Jul 18, 2012 03:20pm
Everyone want to get into there and there, why not condemn Taliban for non-nonsensical move? Why everything that goes against our unqualified love for Taliban is a conspiracy? We as a nation need a psychiatrist
Jul 18, 2012 02:17pm
Yes go ahead make the most vulnerable as hostages to the dirty, filthy war of the worlds, shame on every body
Jul 18, 2012 02:18pm
Getting your kids vaccinated against polio is not a favor that you are doing to America. It is a favor you are doing to your own children, family and community. What is the point of trying to help people with such medieval ideas? Hopefully the Taliban knows how to treat polio.
Jul 18, 2012 03:15pm
Height of jahalat. The most interesting part is that a greater part of the nation thinks these Taliban are chosen ones by Allah and will revive Islam. In fact they are the signs of Qayamah, that the most ignorant will become the representatives. Who is going to tell these idiots that Osama was not killed with a Drone, neither the doctors went in to throw a sensor for the missile to track, they if at all did something, collected blood samples. So, are they hiding someone whose kids blood sample they are scared to share.......... otherwise this ban makes no sense.............. and by the way, so as we as nation on our love towards these barbarians.
Adil Jadoon
Jul 18, 2012 02:46pm
Who are they hurting through this? Do they think that the US cares about their children.
Jul 18, 2012 04:59pm
Well, How about negotiating with a gun to your own head? What has America and Drones to do with denying your own children life saving vaccine and condemning them to a deblitating life long affliction? I have never seen any thing like this in my life," If you don't do as I tell you; I will kill my own children." WOW!!!!
Jul 18, 2012 05:15pm
I think the taliban have taken a good decision, they are making the job for people who want peace in Pakistan and the world in long run easy, As if they continue the ban there future generation will grow up to disabled who will not be able to launch suicide bombers and Jihadis...
Jul 18, 2012 05:26pm
what the hell!! children are being killed by drones and those that survive will be polio affected. TOTAL DESTRUCTION.
Jul 18, 2012 06:50pm
After reading these comment i paused and wondered that do we still have people having heart, well few days before i forgot that!!!
Jul 18, 2012 10:09pm
What Pakistan Army?
Jul 18, 2012 10:36pm
Why will USA stop drone attacks for vaccination of your own kids? The only way to stop drones is these guys stop terrorism. Someone needs to teach this to these Talibanis.
Jul 19, 2012 02:06am
If the locals fear that the outsiders will pass on the information about locations of taliban leaders, they should use their own people to gie the required doses.
Larki Desi
Jul 19, 2012 03:26am
this is the most crude joke ever made by the Taliban “Polio vaccination will be banned until drone attacks are stopped" in fact this is a criminal act. Preventing children from vaccination is nothing short of a crime. Shame on the Govt for not having enough Umph to do anything.
Jul 19, 2012 03:43am
This is not expected from a country which boasts third powerful army and most feared intelligence agency
Jul 19, 2012 04:17am
If you can't tell the difference between a life-saving polio vaccine and a life-ending drone, then there is no hope for your children.
Jul 19, 2012 04:23am
The US/UN should stop its anti-polio campaign in Pakistan. Let the Taliban take care of polio.
Adnan khan
Jul 19, 2012 11:25pm
Huh!!! Shame on the rutheless comments of you all people. If UN has a plane to kill the tribal people and probably the most practical MUSLIMS, how can they have a plan to save their children...In fact this would be the height of ignorancy to take aid from your killer.