August 8, 2012 Special Dispatch No. 4872

Taliban Commanders Order Ban On Polio Vaccination In Pakistan, Cleric Calls For 'Jihad Against Polio Campaign'

August 8, 2012
Pakistan | Special Dispatch No. 4872

In recent months, several Taliban commanders and Islamic clerics in Pakistan have called for a boycott of the U.N. polio vaccination program, declaring it a Western conspiracy and calling for jihad against polio eradication teams.

On August 2, 2012, the UN was forced to suspend its polio vaccination drive in Karachi following a spate of shootings. In July, Dr. Dedo David, a UN doctor from Ghana, was shot dead in Karachi even though he was travelling in an unmarked car. A few days later, a Pakistani community worker working on the vaccination drive was also shot dead.

Pakistan, along with Afghanistan and Nigeria, is a polio endemic country. In 2011, 198 polio cases were reported in Pakistan, the highest for any country that year, and up from 144 in 2010. Nevertheless, Hafiz Gul Bahadur and Maulvi Nazir Ahmad - two leading Pakistani Taliban commanders based in Waziristan - called for boycotting the polio vaccination campaign in Pakistan this year. The number of polio cases in Pakistan this year is expected to decline, but new cases are also being reported. ...

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