Islamabad: Terrorists now want to condemn Pakistanis to a life in a wheelchair or on crutches, said a daily Wednesday after five members of polio vaccination teams were murdered.
In a string of attacks across the country, five members of polio vaccination teams have been murdered - four in Karachi and one on the outskirts of Peshawar. All of them were women, the youngest a 14-year-old volunteer.
An editorial in the News International said that Tuesday was the second day of a nationwide three-day drive to eradicate polio, "which is a very real crisis in the country".
"The Taliban had already threatened that they would target these brave health workers, saying they would `regret` spreading infidel practices. The WHO has now suspended its polio vaccination programme in Karachi," it said.
The daily observed that considering the threats these polio vaccination workers had been receiving and their vulnerability "there has been a remarkable lack of protection provided by any government agency".
It pointed out that the "deadly virus that killed these women is called `obscurantism`."
"The fight against polio in Pakistan is crucial to its global eradication, and if we are unable to contain it by vaccination then there is a serious possibility that WHO is going to impose a travel ban on Pakistan in the near future. This will mean that those who cannot provide proof of vaccination will not be allowed to enter countries certified as polio-free.
"It takes little imagination to understand what impact this would have on a population that is highly mobile and travels internationally," the editorial added.
The daily sought a sustained public information campaign to be launched in schools, mosques and other public spaces.
"The obscurantists are not only busy bombing their way across large parts of the country, they now also want to condemn us to a life in a wheelchair or on crutches. The government has a choice to make: either we stop them or we become a crippled and sick nation," it added.