polio-AFP670
A child being administered vaccine for polio. – Photo by AP

MIRAMSHAH, July 18: A grand jirga of tribal elders, tasked by the government to persuade militant groups to allow polio vaccination, informed the administration on Wednesday that the ban on immunisation in Waziristan would continue till drone attacks were stopped.

A source privy to the meeting told Dawn that in plain words the pro-government jirga had endorsed the ban imposed by a Taliban group on polio campaign in North Waziristan.

The jirga of tribal elders, ulema and political authorities, held at the Governor’s Circuit House here, discussed ways of resuming polio vaccination in North Waziristan. It was attended by about 300 tribal elders and prominent ulema from across the tribal agency. Prominent among them were Maulvi Salim Gul, Malak Shah Jehan, Malak Nasrullah Khan, Malak Qadar Khan, Malak Mamoor Khan and Malak Amanullah.

Political Agent Siraj Ahmed Khan briefed the jirga on the importance of the campaign. Agency Surgeon Dr Muhammad Sadiq, Assistant Political Agent Shah Tasleem Khan and the local tehsildar were present on the occasion.

Leaders of the jirga told the government functionaries that the ban imposed by the Hafiz Gul Bahadur group would continue till the stoppage of drone strikes because innocent people, including children and women, were being killed in such attacks.

However, the jirga stressed the need for continuing dialogue and decided that effort would continue to be made to sort out the issue amicably.

Representing the jirga, Malak Qadir Khan said it was ready to talk to the banned Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan’s group if a ‘peace committee’ set an appointment with the militants’ leader.

The five-member peace committee was given a mandate by the government as well as tribal elders to mediate with the Taliban and persuade them to lift the ban. The committee includes Khan Faraz, Malak Rais Khan, Malak Haji Sarfaraz and Mufti Sadiqullah.

About 162,000 children in North Waziristan are at the risk of polio because of refusal by tribal people and imposition of the ban by the Taliban group on vaccination.

Malak Mamoor Khan, chief of Turikhel tribe, told the authorities that drone strikes were more dangerous than polio virus because a child rarely died of polio while hundreds of children were being killed by drones.

He showed photographs of children slain and maimed in drone attacks.

The political agent said polio was a deadly disease that couldn’t be treated and an affected child became a life-time burden for the family. He said the government wanted to curb polio virus in the tribal region.

The official urged the jirga to convey the government’s message to ‘estranged tribal people’ (Taliban groups) that protecting children from polio virus was necessary for a healthy generation in the region.

He asked the jirga to cooperate with the government in restoring peace and carrying out development work. He said it was the responsibility of the elders to cooperate in development of the backward region.

The tribal elders offered cooperation to the administration for speeding up development work.

Opinion

Editorial

Road to perdition
Updated 01 Feb, 2023

Road to perdition

This is also the time of reckoning for those who sowed the seeds of a disastrous policy against militants.
Transport tragedies
01 Feb, 2023

Transport tragedies

TWO tragedies over the weekend illustrate the weak protocols governing the safety of transport in Pakistan. In fact,...
Disqualifying Jam Awais
01 Feb, 2023

Disqualifying Jam Awais

IT appears that there may be some kind of small punishment after all for PPP lawmaker Jam Awais, who was pardoned ...
Police Lines bombing
Updated 31 Jan, 2023

Police Lines bombing

Where the menace of terrorism is concerned, the government and opposition need to close ranks and put up a united front.
Oil price hike
31 Jan, 2023

Oil price hike

THE record single-day increase in petrol prices, preceded by massive currency depreciation, signifies the ...
Babar Azam’s award
31 Jan, 2023

Babar Azam’s award

BABAR Azam might not have lifted many trophies as Pakistan’s all-format captain in the last year but the star...