Barbaric attacks on polio workers tarnish Pakistan’s image


KARACHI – With the recent killing of a polio worker in Peshawar, the death toll of the people engaged in the noble task of immunising the Pakistan’s future generation against the crippling disease of polio has shot up to nine in just one week of 2012’s last month.

A 20-year-old Hilal Ahmed had suffered a bullet injury in his head in the suburbs of Peshawar. He is the ninth member of anti-polio teams to have died in just one week of December 2012 while administering vaccine to children.

Though the fatwa whereby Pakistan Ulema Council (PUC) has condemned the murder of innocent people deserves to be lauded, a unanimous and categorical denunciation, on the part of prominent religious leaders and scholars, of the barbaric attacks on the people tasked with eradication of polio virus, is still awaited.

Commenting over the suspected militants’ attacks on the people associated with the anti-polio campaign, people belonging to different walks of life said that it was beyond their comprehension why most heads of religious parties of the country are maintaining silence over the devilish acts of fanaticism to the detriment of the country’s future generation.

“Isn’t it surprising that except for Mufti Mohammad Naeem and Maulana Raghib Hussain Naimi, no other prominent religious leaders including Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam’s Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Jamaat-e-Islami’s Syed Munawwar Hussain and JUI (S) Maulana Sami-ul-Haq, have not yet come forward to unanimously and categorically condemn the barbaric attacks on the people associated with anti-polio campaign,” they opined.

Referring to the Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) news report published in a section of the press, they said that though it was heartening to note that Mufti Mohammad Naeem had termed the killing of polio workers `acts of terrorism’, the silence being maintained by heads of mainstream religious parties over the barbaric acts of murdering people associated with the polio eradication campaign was not only surprising but was also a matter to ponder upon.

They, however, applauded the statement of Maulana Raghib Hussain Naimi, who had reportedly said that protecting children from deformity and impairment was among the foremost religious responsibilities.

Lashing out at the suspected militants for attacking the people associated with anti-polio campaign, they said that, at a time when the polio virus existed only in just three countries of the world – Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria –, the need of the hour is that the leaders of all the religious parties and scholars must get united against all those whose nefarious designs are none other than making the country a land of lunatics and the crippled.

“All the heads of religious parties of the country and renowned scholars should unanimously and categorically condemn the barbaric acts of suspected militants who do not want that our children be protected from being crippled,” they suggested.

“In fact, the silence which most of the religious parties have been maintaining over the killings of polio workers is not only mind-boggling but beyond one’s comprehension,” they deplored.

Condemning the cruel acts of attacking anti-polio workers, especially those in the blossom of their lives, they made a passionate appeal to all the sections of the society to raise their voice and rise against the suspected militants’ acts of murderous frenzy against the innocent people associated with the task of eradicating polio.

Pakistan’s future in the comity of nations stands very bleak and we might become a cast away, outside the pale of decent people and as a result of which not only the country’s image will be tarnished but the donor agencies and World Health Organisation (WHO) might also withdraw their support to the anti-polio campaign and other welfare-oriented projects being carried out with their assistance.

January 21, 2013

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