Dengue in Pak: Conspiracy theories gain momentum

Last Updated: Saturday, September 17, 2011 - 18:56

Lahore: As the Punjab provincial government
here grapples with the dengue menace, conspiracy theories are
abound with some blaming the origin of the disease on the
American spy agency CIA while others claim it is because of
"God`s annoyance with Pakistanis."

Some members of the Punjab Assembly claimed dengue had
affected the province because of "God`s annoyance" and called
on people to seek forgiveness as a "remedy".
The Punjab Assembly`s speaker has even adjourned
proceedings for an indefinite period so that the government
could control the spread of the virus, at the request of some
`frightened` elected representatives.

Incidentally, a majority of the legislators have left
Lahore for their respective hometown because of the fear of
dengue.

During yesterday`s session in the assembly, the
legislators advocated prayers to stave off what they called
the "dance of death in the province and in Lahore".

Even legislators like Asad Ashraf of the PML-N and Akhtar
Malik of the Pakistan People`s Party, who are professional
doctors, professed faith in prayers to counter dengue.

"It is time for dua (prayers)," Akhtar told the assembly.

"Nations suffer such deadly epidemics because of their
sins, which can be taken care of only by seeking God`s
forgiveness," he claimed.
In a related development, professors Huzaima Bukhari and
Ikramul Haq of the prestigious Lahore University of Management
Sciences argued in an article published in Business Recorder
daily yesterday that dengue was introduced in Pakistan by the
CIA in the 1980s as part of a germ warfare campaign directed
against Soviet troops, who were then occupying Afghanistan.

The article, which was widely derided by Pakistani users
of Facebook and Twitter, alleged dengue was spread through a
"Malaria Eradication Centre" set up in Lahore by the US in the
1980s.

In the Punjab Assembly, some legislators used the debate
on dengue to attack various institutions despite a promise
made a day earlier by the lawmakers to treat the outbreak as a
national crisis and to fight it together.

Shaukat Basra of the PPP touched a raw nerve in the
treasury benches when he asked the Supreme Court Chief Justice
Iftikhar Chaudhry to take "suo moto notice of dengue killings
in Lahore".

He added: "If the Karachi killings can merit his
attention, why can`t the Lahore killings? The Chief Justice
must take notice of provincial mismanagement, fix
responsibility and take the guilty to task".

Basra further said PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif should lead
the campaign against dengue.

Responding to him, Rana Arshad of the PML-N said: "If the
PPP wants Nawaz Sharif to lead the campaign against dengue,
why it does not ask President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime
Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani to do it instead? They should
visit Punjab as the province is part of Pakistan".

Arshad too used the occasion to remind everyone that "one
dies because of God`s will, and prayers are the only remedy".

Completely ignoring the 37 deaths caused by dengue so far
in Punjab, Asad Ashraf of the PML-N maintained that "dengue
was not a fatal virus".

Patients could be healed if they take rest and keep their
temperature under control, he contended.

PTI



First Published: Saturday, September 17, 2011 - 18:56

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