In a statement released by the leadership of Taliban, it has been announced that the Afghan militant group has finally decided to end their war against polio eradication in the country.
The announcement emerges weeks after the Afghanistan government decided to initiate a polio campaign to immunize eight million children between six months and five years. Though the campaign is being funded by the American organization USAID, the World Health Organization as well as by the UNICEF, the Taliban have allowed the vaccinations admitting that it is the only way to the eradication of the viral and infectious disease.
Previously, the fundamentalist political movement openly opposed the anti-polio vaccination campaigns in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Last year in December, almost eight health workers were shot by Islamists in Pakistan and again in January this year, two more got killed in a mine blast in the Kurram tribal area of Pakistan. In March, a polio campaign was stopped in Afghanistan mainly due to the strong opposition of Taliban in that area. In Nigeria, an Islamic extremist group called Boko Haram gunned down nine polio health workers.
Almost all the countries of the world are polio free except Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria. The reason is more or less the same; the strong resistance offered by different Islamist groups in the three countries. The clerics of these groups believe that these vaccines have been prepared by Western forces to cause sterility in (Muslim) children. Also, different anti-polio campaigns are viewed as a way of keeping tabs on Taliban strongholds by Western powers, mainly America.
The Taliban-controlled Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan released an official statement admitting the importance of polio vaccines. It also said that the Taliban now want the children to be immunized from the disease as long as the workers and volunteers stick to Islamic traditions and there is absolutely no foreign involvement. The declaration ends by saying:
“In case of compliance with these rudiments, all the associated workers (Mujahidin) of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan are directed, not to create any kind of trouble for them, rather they should be provided with all necessary support.”
Indeed, this is a positive development and a sigh of relief for the people of Pakistan. What do you think?