Posted by Dr Muhammad Faheem Belharvi
Polio is a deadly viruswith its crippling affects which paralyze the children, and thus gives agreater blow to a nation. Discovery of anti-polio vaccine has made it possibleto eliminate the virus and make the environment free of polio infection.
In the recent past,Indian government through its High Commissioner has advised the Pakistanitravelers visiting to Indian cities to produce a Polio Vaccination Certificateprior to resumption of their tours to India. Moreover, these certificates mustbe carried by the Pakistani travelers’ stay in India. They have also asked fora list of hospitals, doctors and vaccines in Pakistan. There are reports thatIndian intelligence agency RAW is involved in sponsoring and engaging attackson the polio worker-teams in Pakistan. The aim of Indian scheme is to defamePakistan at international level—on health issues, particularly on perils ofpolio.
While, the World HealthOrganization (WHO) has officially certified India and nine other Asiancountries, namely, Bangladesh, Bhutan, South Korea, Indonesia, Maldives, Nepal,Sri Lanka, Thailand and East Timor as polio free. India where 150, 000 cases ofparalytic polio were reported in 1985 and 741 cases in 2009, but with allinclusive efforts and cooperation offered by Indian people, the country hasjoined the list of those countries which have been declared by WHO as poliofree.
Regrettably, for everyPakistani, it is a momentous victory of India over a crippling plague by theWHO. Unfortunately, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria have been enlisted ascountries stained and infected with the deadly virus.On the other hand, the WHOhas ignored the fact that India is the largest “HIV/AIDS” virus infectedcountry, and many innocent people from different countries have already contractedHIV/AIDS after interacting with Indian nationals. Therefore, PakistanGovernment needs to filter Indian nationals, visiting Pakistan after placingstringent testing mechanism to reveal that those visiting Pakistan are HIV/AIDSfree. This will enable Islamabad to control a real health hazard which willpierce into Pakistan through Indian visitors.
However, Taliban,particularly those of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), under the garb ofreligion have started a stupid and foolish campaign to oppose polio vaccinationscheme in the country. It is crippling mentality of religious zealots in KhyberPakhtoonkhwa, the tribal areas and Karachi, who are not allowing polio workersto administer anti-polio vaccine and make our own people safe against the cripplingvirus. It is shame on such fanatic people who are simply resorting toself-immolation and self-destruction. Islam permits administering of anti-poliovaccine, as it makes future life safer against the deadly virus.
It is notable that theTaliban militants had attacked the anti-polio workers in Karachi in wake of thepeace talks with the government, and accepted responsibility in this respect.Besides, a number of assaults by the TTP insurgents have continued on the polioworkers in Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa and the FATA. They even did not spare the ladieswho were going house to house in order to eliminate the polio virus by givingdrops to the children. Police and the personnel of the law-enforcing agencieswere also targeted by these culprits, as they were providing security to thepolio-teams.
Taking cognizance ofthe terrorists’ attack, the UNO stopped its anti-polio campaign in Pakistan.This is what the Taliban wanted. In fact, playing in the hands of some foreignpowers, these militants have been tarnishing the image of Pakistan abroad.Nodoubt, majority of the women of these regions were cooperating with thepolio-teams, but these merciless Taliban created a phenomenon of fear andterror for them through threats. These terrorists also misguided the innocentpeople through propaganda that polio vaccination scheme is un-Islamic.
It is heartening tonote that polio as an ancient scourge is very much treatable as scientificquests to find anti-polio vaccine enable man to fight and eliminate the deadlydisease. It simply requires positive mind-set and concern for futuregenerations. We cannot afford to cripple our future generation by opposinganti-polio campaign which is available free of cost.
Pakistan government,media, politicians, members of the civil society and especially religiousscholars must take the WHO findings seriously and actions must be taken toeliminate the curse of polio from Pakistan.
In this regard, thegovernment of Pakistan must undertake measures to provide protection to polioadministering volunteers, and the law-enforcing agencies, enabling them tomanage successful completion of anti-polio campaign. The government must passlegislation that without polio certification, no admissions in school,registration with NADRA, obtaining of educational certificates and passportswill be allowed.
Undoubtedly, anti-poliovaccine plan is very much permissible in Islam. Propaganda that it isun-Islamic is not only ridiculous but a wicked conspiracy against our futuregeneration, designed to create serious health hazards for Pakistan. So,particularly, our country’s religious scholars must issue Fatwas (Verdicts)that administration of polio drops which is a religious compulsion on everyMuslim is Halal (legitimate), and isvery much in line with the Islamic teachings, while Taliban propaganda istotally un-Islamic and baseless.
It should be propagatedthrough media that polio is to be fought to make the coming life safe inPakistan. Pakistan belongs to our future generation and we cannot cripple themfor nothing.In this connection, all Pakistanis have a responsibility to supportanti-polio campaign and facilitate administration of polio vaccine to thechildren. This will enable us to eliminate the dangerous health hazards.Criminalsinvolved in targeted killing of polio workers must be condemned and allcommunities must cooperate with the law-enforcing agencies to punish them.
Instead of waiting forother countries to impose restrictions on Pakistani nationals’ visiting abroadto produce polio certification, Pakistan must make rules that polio vaccinationis a pre-requisite to proceed abroad without which no body can go abroad.Nevertheless,Let us put up a collective and brave stance to counter anti-polio plots bycooperating with polio workers and law-enforcing agencies in order to makePakistan, a polio free country.
(By Sajjad Shaukat)