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PTI chief Imran Khan administering anti polio drops to grandson of Maulana Samiul Haq at Darul Aloom Haqqania on Wednesday. – Photo by Online
PTI chief Imran Khan administering anti polio drops to grandson of Maulana Samiul Haq at Darul Aloom Haqqania on Wednesday. – Photo by Online
PTI chief Imran Khan exchanging views with Maulana Samiul Haq at Darul Aloom Haqqania on Wednesday. – Photo by Online
PTI chief Imran Khan exchanging views with Maulana Samiul Haq at Darul Aloom Haqqania on Wednesday. – Photo by Online

PESHAWAR: Avoiding an open condemnation of Taliban militants yet again, Pakistani cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan on Wednesday assailed “those who are attacking polio workers” and demanded an immediate end to the attacks.

Without naming Pakistani Taliban, Khan said those who are targeting polio workers, “are doing injustice to our province, our country and the whole of humanity.”

He has pledged personally to spearhead polio vaccination efforts in the troubled northwest of the country, which remains a hotspot for the crippling disease.

Khan kick started the campaign by administering polio drops to children in a government hospital in the town of Akoda Khattak, 50 km (30 miles) east of Peshawar.

“If we run a full-fledged campaign against polio in the coming three months we can eradicate polio from the country and I will personally lead this campaign,” he said.

Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) party leads the government in the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), which borders North Waziristan.

The PTI chief appeared alongside radical cleric Maulana Samiul Haq, known as the “Father of the Taliban,” who last week issued a fatwa urging parents to immunise their children against polio, saying vaccinations complied with Islamic law.

Doctor Imtiaz Khan, focal person for the polio campaign in the province, told AFP that up to 2.3 million children in nine districts would be targeted in the immunisation drive.

“As many as 52 cases of polio were reported from the tribal areas and 10 from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa this year,” he said.

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

Earlier on Tuesday, police foiled an attempted attack on a polio team in Karachi. A Taliban ban on inoculation in the tribal region of North Waziristan last year has been blamed for a surge in cases.

According to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative led by the World Health Organisation (WHO), Pakistan has recorded 74 cases of polio this year – up from 58 in the whole of 2012.

Imran Khan warned that people might not be allowed to travel out of the province in the near future unless the polio virus was eradicated.

Last month the WHO linked an outbreak of polio in Syria that has paralysed 13 children to a strain of the virus from Pakistan.

Earlier this month, New Delhi announced it would require citizens from Pakistan and other polio-affected nations travelling to India to undergo polio vaccination at least six weeks before departure.

Remarks evoke Taliban threat

In a late night development, a spokesman for Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) stated that the life of party chairman Imran Khan was seriously under threat from a militant group over his stance on the polio campaign.

“PTI chairman Imran Khan has been informed that according to information from Waziristan there has been a serious threat to his life by (a militant group) Ansarul Mujahideen because of his polio announcement,” the spokesman said in a text message sent to Dawn.

Inaugurating a polio campaign by administering drops to children in a government hospital in the town of Akorra Khattak in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Mr Khan, without naming Taliban or any other militant group, had stated that those who were attacking polio workers “are doing injustice to our province, our country and the whole of humanity”.

The PTI spokesman said the party would raise the issue on Thursday either in the National Assembly or through a news conference.


Comments (15) Closed



True Pakistani Dec 18, 2013 08:38pm

Well done Mr Khan!

Najma Dec 18, 2013 09:19pm

Imran's own travel abroad is at stake that is why he is behind this issue. How many poor Pakistani care if they can travel abroad or not. This is the height of hypocracy of Pakistani politicians. All International community needs to do is to revoke Pakistani travels and get the results. Well done India.

Parvez Dec 18, 2013 09:27pm

Well done Imran Khan..........the first politician to actually do what he has said he would do. People like Samiul Haq need to be shamed for their beliefs and harm that this has done to the country.

Shah Dec 18, 2013 11:00pm

Then why does Mr Khan want to open their office in Islamabad?

toocool Dec 19, 2013 01:54am

Imran is a brave patriot, one of the very few who take Pakistan seriously. Has always taken a principled stand. Well done.

Ahmed Dec 19, 2013 02:31am

good decision by imran khan to lead anti polio campaign in kpk.

Ali Dec 19, 2013 03:33am

Look at the headline, instead of praising this brave decision people are more interested in criticising Talibans. So the likely scenario is those brainless talibs get angry and carry out even more attacks on polio workers. When are people going to learn that we need lot more than just condemnation??

Bilal Dec 19, 2013 04:36am

Mr. Khan could have shown grace by lauding the efforts of poor Asifa Bhutto who's been fighting and campaining against Polio since several years despite life threats from Taliban.

ali ahmed Dec 19, 2013 08:51am

Finally something sensible coming out of Imran Khan.

irum afshan qureshi Dec 19, 2013 10:57am

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf is proving it's mettle with every passing day. May Pakistan flourish. Ameen.

Jamshed Khan Dec 19, 2013 01:32pm

Thank Dr Afridi for this; he is the one who is responsible for all ithese nnocent deaths, directly or indirectly.

Kaspar Dec 19, 2013 01:56pm

IK has to be explicit in his condemnation. Polio immunisation is not a matter of choice; it is a necessity. It has to be compulsory. If some people object to it and prevent immunisation of some children against polio, they are in fact putting the health and indeed the lives of all children in jeopardy. They should be convinced of its necessity or dealt with appropriately. Time for IK to wake up!

Lakhkar Khan Dec 19, 2013 08:04pm

Imran Khan said, "those who are targeting polio workers,

Imran Dec 20, 2013 07:41pm

Well done Imran. I suggest you team up with Musharaf - both of you are clean, fair, intellegent and bold.

Sam Dec 21, 2013 07:30am

Go Imran Go.