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Jirga threatens to boycott anti-polio campaign in KPK province

PTI | Last Updated: Wednesday, October 30, 2013 - 13:48

Islamabad: Anti-polio campaigns in parts of northwest Pakistan`s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province are likely to be affected after a jirga decided to boycott the health drive protesting the 18-hour electricity loadshedding in the area.

Local politicians, traders, civil society members, lawyers, and a large number of elders attended the jirga held at the office of the Peshawar Electric Supply Company executive engineer in Shabqadar in Charsadda District.

Prominent among those who attended the jirga were Qaumi Watan Party provincial joint secretary Mohammad Jan Gagyani, Anjuman-i-Tajiran president Haji Syed Rahim Shah Bacha, vice president Akbar Hussain, Business Forum president Mukamil Shah and others, Dawn daily reported.

The participants said that prolonged and unscheduled loadshedding had compounded their problems. They said traders and students were the worst hit.

Through a unanimous resolution, the participants of the jirga decided to boycott the anti-polio drives in protest.

The jirga also set up a 12-member committee to sort out the issue of loadshedding with PESCO authorities.

Pakistan remains one of the last bastions of the deadly disease in the world besides Afghanistan and Nigeria.

This year alone, 49 fresh polio cases have been recorded in Pakistan, a development that threatens to derail global efforts to root out the disease.

Of the 49 cases of polio - 36 were in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), three in Punjab, four in Sindh and six in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK).

Taliban has denounced vaccines as a "Western plot" to sterilise Muslims and imposed bans on inoculation.

On June 19, 2012, the Taliban imposed a ban on anti-polio vaccinations in North Waziristan Agency, stipulating the restriction would last till drone attacks cease.

Since then, no one in the entire agency has been able to get their children vaccinated.

At least 260,000 children in North and South Waziristan had not been vaccinated against polio since July 2012.

Accusations that immunisation campaigns are cover for spies were given credence after the killing of then al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in 2012 by US special forces.

The US had also used a Pakistani vaccination team to gather intelligence about bin Laden.

First Published: Wednesday, October 30, 2013 - 13:48

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