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Anti-polio workers’ killings

December 22, 2012

DURING the Karachi unrest case hearing, there was talk on no-go areas in the city. Such a repetitive argument forced Supreme Court judges to make up their mind on delimitation of constituencies across the city.

The court termed this action to break the monopoly of certain political parties (read MQM). The court also proposed to depute army soldiers to oversee the reconfirmation of electoral lists.

However, events of Dec 18 tell some other story. Yes, there are no-go areas in Karachi — not for political workers but for health workers. Four lady health workers were gunned down in cold blood in Pakhtun-majority localities in Karachi.

These unfortunate ladies were part of the team administering polio drops to children in Karachi’s outskirts. Karachi has not seen this kind of madness until the internally displaced people (IDPs) from Fata and some from Swat started arriving in huge numbers in 2005.

Most of them got accommodated in shanty areas in Karachi’s outskirts, recreating the environment from where they came from.

Along with the IDPs came the tribal culture and beliefs that polio drops are being administered at the behest of the West to sterilise Muslim boys.

Karachiites should reject this blot on their city’s name. They should demand that polio campaign workers should be escorted by armed soldiers in the so-called tribal areas in Karachi which have become no-go areas for the police.

Pakistan is one of the only three countries (others are Afghanistan and Nigeria) where polio cases are on the rise, while elsewhere in the world this crippling disease is on retreat.

Should we request suo motu action by the Supreme Court to force the government to take some real action to make the polio campaign safe for volunteers who are risking their lives for the sake of their nation’s future generations?

So far we are recognised as exporters of terrorists. If we allow these religious extremists to get on with their heinous crimes, we will be handicapped exporters of terrorists. The choice is in our hands.

M. KHAN    Saudi Arabia

Anti-thesis forces

KILLINGS of anti-polio drive staff in Karachi is a matter of grave concern for everyone. It is not less than a tragedy that those who dedicated themselves to see future generations of Pakistan polio-free have become victims of narrow mindedness of some extremists.

Until the recent past such incidents were confined to relatively remote and less educated areas of Pakistan. But we can now see this detestable trend in the largest Pakistani metropolis of Karachi. The killings must be condemned and should be a wake-up call to all educated moderate forces in Karachi and elsewhere.

We all know about the ideological tug-of-war between the right and the left in the city so that one may think that it could be a challenge to the forces of moderation.

The timing of these incidents is also important. We all know that the country is headed for elections, and Karachi, due to its cultural and economic significance, could well be a battleground for ideological dominance between rival forces of the right and the left. By looking at the incidents in the recent past we can easily see the rising influence of anti-thesis in a city which has long been dominated by traditional urban culture mixed with accommodating version of Islam.

Any blend of strictest form of religion, coupled with conservative cultural values, would certainly be in direct confrontation with the mainstream welcoming nature of the city.

All one can see is the alliance of left forces to counter the rising influence of anti-thesis of the right to gain ground in the coming elections. One may wish that sanity prevails on all sides and the city is made safe.


Apprehending criminals

TERRORISM seems to becoming a never-ending agony for the people of Pakistan. Nobody seems to be safe from its clutches and even those who go out of the way to help others are vulnerable.

Working on minimum wages per day, polio vaccinators were murdered in different parts of the city. Medical practitioners, who are known as messiah for saving others’ lives cannot even guarantee their own now.

Workers, who were killed trying to save children from polio, never knew their lives would end in such a tragic way.

Polio, a disease, which can devastate a person’s life forever, is feared globally. High-level measures are taken to prevent this disease throughout the world. But here in Pakistan those who take measures to stop this disease get killed.

The widespread terrorism has reached such an extent that we cannot run our business, social work, perform religious ceremonies, live, and breathe. And now we cannot even save others’ lives.

To set an example, in order to avoid such heinous acts, the government should immediately apprehend the criminals and take strict action against them so that one must think thousand times before committing such a crime.

May Allah give the families of the victims strength to bear the loss.