Islamabad: Despite a national immunization campaign starting Monday, thousands of children in Pakistan’s tribal provinces of North and South Waziristan will remain deprived of the anti-polio vaccine, because of a ban imposed by the Taliban.
Taliban had last month announced that the `shura` (council) of militants had decided to ban the vaccination drive as long as US drone strikes continued in the region.
Pakistan, which is among three countries where polio is still prevalent, is bound to suffer a big setback to its polio eradication plans.
Nearly one million children in the militancy-hit tribal regions are supposed to be vaccinated in the three-day immunisation campaign that starts today, said officials.
Polio cases in tribal regions and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province have raised concern among local and foreign health officials despite a lot of money being spent on the immunization programme in Pakistan.
Officials said that nine polio cases have been detected in Khyber tribal region and one each from North Waziristan and South Waziristan Agencies.
The polio vaccination campaign was launched nearly two weeks after the Taliban group in North Waziristan announced ban on polio vaccination campaign to protest the US drone strikes.
The immunisation campaigns have been disrupted in recent years by a number of factors, including heavy flooding and military campaigns against the Taliban.
Also, in past various clerics have spoken against polio vaccination, contending the vaccination campaign was nothing a cover for American spies.
It should be noted that Osama bin Laden was traced in Pakistan’s Abbottabad, using a fake polio vaccination campaign engineered by the CIA.
With Agency Inputs