ISLAMABAD: Lauding the noble service of polio workers and provincial governments for eradication of the crippling disease from the country, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday directed the district administrations to take legal action against those harassing and attacking these workers.
“District administrations should take responsibility to initiate deterrent legal action in cases of harassment of or attacks on polio workers,” the prime minister said while presiding over a meeting held to review arrangements for the coming country-wide polio eradication campaign.
He was told that southern districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, some districts of Balochistan, including Quetta, Qila Abdullah and Pishin, and some districts of Sindh, including Hyderabad and Karachi, were most vulnerable for the spread of poliovirus through sewage and water.
He appreciated the provincial governments, district administrations and polio workers for their hard work and efforts for eradication of polio from the country.
Asks authorities to relocate pollution creating units
“I highly appreciate the hard work done by provincial chief secretaries and deputy commissioners for polio eradication,” he added.
A number of incidents have taken place in the country in which polio workers were attacked and killed apparently by militants. The incidents took place after a reported ‘fake polio campaign’ was launched in Abbottabad in 2011 to ‘trace’ Al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden who was later killed in a US Navy Seals operation in the garrison city on May 2, 2011.
The prime minister lauded the efforts made by workers of polio eradication teams who reach out to children in far-flung and hard areas of the country. “These workers are performing a national service and deserve special appreciation,” the prime minister said, adding that his special assistant on health services Dr Faisal Sultan would come up with a rewards plan for best performing polio workers. He emphasised that low-transmission season was a crucial stage and they all had to act against polio with “killer instincts”.
The prime minister directed the provincial chief secretaries and deputy commissioners to sustain the polio eradication drive with the same vigour and focus. He called for synergising routine immunisations with the anti-polio campaigns.
Prime Minister Khan also emphasised the need for maximising efforts for Covid-19 vaccination as a proactive measure against the spread of new variant Omicron.
The meeting was informed that international organisations were acknowledging the efforts of the government against Covid-19 and polio.
The meeting was attended by Dr Sultan, Parliamentary Secretary for Health Dr Nausheen Hamid and senior officials. The chief secretaries of Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan and the deputy commissioners of more than 30 districts attended the meeting via video link.
Pollution creating units
In a separate meeting, Prime Mini-ster Khan directed the federal and provincial authorities to get major industrial units, like brick kilns and steel furnaces, relocated outside cities with effective restrictions.
The meeting reviewed pollution-related issues in the country and called for incentivising the use of quality fuel and gradual replacement of vehicles run on oil and gas with electric vehicles.
The prime minister mentioned how developed countries had shifted to modern technology, including conversion of public transport into electric vehicles. He directed that new buses for all metros in the country should be electric vehicles.
“We must incentivise the industry for shifting their units out of the cities and using modern technology for environment safety,” he added.
The prime minister directed the Punjab government to adopt a comprehensive smog control policy at the earliest. He directed the federal government and provincial governments of Punjab and KP to work on a short-, medium- and long-term comprehensive plan for forward-looking policies with timelines for implementation.
Earlier, the prime minister was briefed that vehicles, industrial units and burning of waste material and stubble were major sources of air pollution. The prime minister also stressed the need for dialogue with regional countries to protect environment through collective efforts.
Bakhtiar meets PM
Federal Minister for Industries and Production Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar called on Prime Minister Khan and briefed him about the capacity of fertiliser production in the country.
He also briefed the prime minister about the measures taken by the Ministry of Industries and Production to facilitate the large-scale manufacturing sector and export industry.
The prime minister was also apprised of the progress on ongoing development projects in south Punjab and positive effects of the steps taken by the government for farmers.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Khan directed the authorities concerned to make the system of community welfare attaches effective and operational to ensure the welfare and betterment of overseas Pakistanis — a precious asset for the country.
The prime minister was talking to his adviser on overseas Pakistanis Ayub Khan Afridi, who called on him.
Matters relating to dual nationality with Spain and the issuance of visa for Pakistanis living abroad without Pakistan-origin card were also discussed during the meeting.
Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Gen Nadeem Raza and Director General of Strategic Plans Division Lt Gen Nadeem Zaki Manj also met the prime minister.
Professional matters pertaining to defence of the country were discussed during the meeting.
Published in Dawn, December 4th, 2021