LAHORE – The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has condemned the killing of six polio vaccinators in Karachi and Peshawar, and demanded arrest of the perpetrators, effective measures to prevent such attacks in future and compensation for the families of the victims.
In a statement, the commission said: `The HRCP condemns in the strongest possible words the cold-blooded murder of six polio workers in four attacks in Karachi and Peshawar.
The attacks are the height of brutality and a bid to rob Pakistan`s children of a healthy future. As even a single affected child in a community could undermine efforts to defeat polio, these attacks deal a devastating blow to the efforts to eradicate polio in Pakistan, one of only three countries where the debilitating disease still threatens young lives.
`It defies the belief that all these killings in a single day are a coincidence. The three attacks in Karachi in less than an hour in particular seem to be coordinated. Polio vaccinators had been attacked and killed earlier in the year too. Also on Wednesday last, polio workers were attacked in Peshawar. Threats to polio vaccination staff across the country had not been a secret, unlike steps, if any, that the government had taken to counter those threats,` the statement continued. It further read: `Efforts to prevent future attacks must begin with bringing the perpetrators of these killings to justice and intelligence gathering to pre-empt extremist elements` designs. The need to continue immunisation and to keep polio teams safe and motivated is critical in the aftermath of the attack.
Although the main responsibility for that lies with the government, community leaders also have a significant role to play.
`The HRCP calls upon all political parties, media, civil society and community leaders to unequivocally denounce the barbaric targeting of those who work to save children from disability and death. They should also play their role in persuading the parents to get their children vaccinated against the deadly disease.
`The HRCP also urges the government to pay adequate financial compensation to the families of all slain vaccinators in order to make it somewhat manageable for them to tide over this very difficult time,` the HRCP statement conclude.