`Polio a huge embarrassment for Pakistan`

Islamabad: Pakistan has been "infamous the world over for exporting terrorism" and now there are fears of it exporting the polio virus to other countries, a leading daily said Friday, noting that India had been able to contain the disease.

An editorial in the Daily Times said that the poor results of the polio eradication programme had led the World Health Organisation (WHO) to warn that Pakistan might face travel, visa and other sanctions if it fails to control the virus.

"The situation is indeed alarming as Saudi Arabia has already made the vaccination mandatory for Pakistani pilgrims before they leave Pakistan to avoid transmission of the virus to their country. Other countries are also thinking of following suit, which could create problems for Pakistani travellers," it said.

"It is also a matter of huge embarrassment for Pakistan as it is one of only two countries in the world where this disease is still prevalent. Even our neighbouring country India, with over one billion population, has been successful in containing polio," the editorial added.

The daily cautioned that the people of Pakistan are still under threat and also posing a serious threat to the people living across the globe as the polio eradication programme has not been effectively implemented.

It said the government has to seriously tackle the misperception among some sections of the public about the polio vaccine, "which some benighted people characterize as a conspiracy to render Muslims infertile".

Stating the issue is serious and directly related to the life and health of children, the editorial said that the nation cannot "afford any neglect or corruption in this regard".

"Our country has been infamous the world over for exporting terrorism and now the world is disturbed over the possible export of the polio virus from Pakistan to their countries. We need to work tirelessly to improve this situation," it added.