Thursday, December 20, 2012

Why Are the Taliban Attacking Women Polio Workers?

Why are the Taliban assassinating polio workers in Pakistan?  Why are they attacking schoolgirls like Malala and her friends and why are many young women being murdered in "honor killings" in rural Pakistan? What is it that the killers fear from unarmed females seeking education or working to provide basic health care to poor families or choosing their own mates? Why so much gratuitous violence against peaceful women?

Before answering these questions, let's look at the following facts on the ground:

1. As of 2006, about 72 percent of the University of Karachi student body is female. Among medical students, 87 percent are women, and the figure for architecture and planning is as high as 92 percent. In fact, KU vice chancellor was so concerned that he suggested a quota for men.

2. In addition to basic door-to-door health care and vaccinations, Pakistan's Lady Health Workers also offer family planning and birth control tips to women.  The vaccination effort has been made more difficult ever since the discovery of the US CIA-sponsored bogus vaccination campaign to identify bin Laden's  whereabouts.  The Ladies Health Workers program is staffed by 100,000 women and it's been described as "one of the best community-based health systems in the world” by Dr. Donald Thea, a Boston University researcher. Thea is one of the authors of a recent Lancet study on child pneumonia treatment in Pakistan. He talked with the New York Times about the study.

3. In the study of censuses, the most important age group in society is that between 15 and 24. In the 1981 census, 39 percent of women in this age bracket were married, as were 16 percent of the men. Today, the figure for married women in this bracket is less than 20 percent, and for married men 7 percent. For the first time in Karachi's history, there is an overwhelming majority of unmarried adolescents. For this same 15-24 age group in Karachi, 67 percent of the men were literate in 1981, as were 63 percent of the women. Today, we have 84 percent literacy among men and 85 percent literacy among women.

4.  Much of the progress has come because women stay in school longer. More than 42 percent of Pakistan’s 2.6 million high school students last year were girls, up from 30 percent 18 years ago. Women made up about 22 percent of the 68,000 students in Pakistani universities in 1993; today, 47 percent of Pakistan’s 1.1 million university students are women, according to the Higher Education Commission. Half of all MBA graduates hired by Habib Bank, Pakistan’s largest lender, are now women. “Parents are realizing how much better a lifestyle a family can have if girls work,” says Sima Kamil, 54, who oversees 1,400 branches as head of retail banking at Habib. “Every branch I visit has one or two girls from conservative backgrounds,” she told Businessweek.

5. About 31 percent of Pakistani females are in the workforce, up from 14 percent a decade ago, government statistics show. Women now hold 78 of the 342 seats in the National Assembly, and in July, Hina Rabbani Khar, 34, became Pakistan’s first woman Foreign Minister. “The cultural norms regarding women in the workplace have changed,” Maheen Rahman, 34, chief executive officer at IGI Funds, which manages some $400 million in assets. Rahman told Businessweek she plans to keep recruiting more women for her company.

6.  There was a recent news story about young Pakistanis engaging in Internet dating and marriages According to data compiled by Karachi-based sociologist Arif Hasan,  there were 10 to 15 applications for court marriages in Karachi in 1992, mainly applications from couples who were seeking the protection of the court for wedlock without familial consent. By 2006, it increased to more than 250 applications for court marriages per day in Karachi. Significantly, more than half of the couples seeking court recognition of their marriage came from rural areas of Sindh.

7.  As early as 1998 when the last census was held, researcher Reza Ali  found that Pakistan was almost half urban and half rural, using a  more useful definitions of ‘urban’, and not the outdated definition  of the Census Organization which excludes the huge informal settlements in the peri-urban areas of the cities which are very often not part of the metropolitan areas.

8. A 2012 study of 22 nations conducted by Prof Miles Corak for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has found that upward economic mobility to be greater in Pakistan than the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy, China and 5 other countries. The study's findings were presented by the author in testimony to the US Senate Finance Committee on July 6, 2012.

The above facts point to a powerful trend of increasing education and workforce participation of Pakistani women.  It's these trends that the Pakistani Taliban see as a threat to the goal of imposing their dark tribal vision on an increasingly urban and middle class Pakistan. In their desperation, Taliban are now attacking soft targets like schoolgirls and polio workers. They are also going after right-wing politicians and media who have been sympathetic to the Taliban but don't entirely agree with them.

In my view, the medieval-minded Taliban are no match for the powerful revolutionary social changes sweeping Pakistan today. They will be swept away as Pakistan becomes a prosperous and urban middle class nation with full participation of  empowered women in all walks of life.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistan's Lady Health Workers Best in the World 

American CIA Sponsored Fake Vaccination Campaign

Violence Against Social  Change in Pakistan

Silent Social Revolution in Pakistan

The Eclipse of Feudalism in Pakistan

Social and Structural Transformations in Pakistan

Malala Moment: Profiles in Courage-Not!

Urbanization in Pakistan Highest in South Asia

Rising Economic Mobility in Pakistan

Upwardly Mobile Pakistan


Syed said...

I agree with your conclusion that Taliban would be swept away. However, in last ten years, Taliban mind set has grown in numbers and Taliban have gotten stronger militarily. We’ve discussed political + military solution earlier but at this time, I see no development in pursuing any solution. My fear is that we are taking this to a level where security forces and enlightened civilians may have very tough time to root out this cancer.

Riaz Haq said...

Syed: "My fear is that we are taking this to a level where security forces and enlightened civilians may have very tough time to root out this cancer."

The Taliban have very few friends left. They are gradually losing the support of even their right-wing sympathizer friends by these cowardly attacks on soft targets. There is no way the Taliban can win by taking on all of Pakistan and the world. I think their days are numbered. What we are seeing now is the beginning of their end. They will not totally surrender but they can and will be reduced to a manageable nuisance.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Reuters' report on clerics protest call against polio worker killings by the Taliban:

An alliance of Pakistani clerics will hold demonstrations across the country against the killings of polio eradication campaign workers, leaders said on Thursday, as the death toll from attacks this week rose to nine.

Tahir Ashrafi, who heads the moderate Pakistan Ulema Council, said that 24,000 mosques associated with his organization would preach against the killings of health workers during Friday prayers.

"Neither Pakistani customs nor Islam would allow or endorse this. Far from doing something wrong, these girls are martyrs for Islam because they were doing a service to humanity and Islam," he said.

Ashrafi's words are a clear signal that some of Pakistan's powerful clergy are willing to challenge violent militants.

Gunmen on motorbikes have killed nine anti-polio campaign workers this week, including a man who died of his wounds on Thursday. Some of the dead were teenage girls.

Following the violence, the United Nations pulled back all staff involved in the vaccination campaign and Pakistani officials suspended it in some parts of the country.

"The killers of these girls are not worthy of being called Muslims or human beings," said Maulana Asadullah Farooq, of the Jamia Manzur Islamia, one of the biggest madrassas, or religious schools, in the city of Lahore.

"We have held special prayers for the martyrs at our mosque and will hold more prayers after Friday prayers tomorrow. We also ask other mosques to come forward and pray for the souls of these brave martyrs."

It is not clear who is behind the killings.

Pakistani Taliban militants have repeatedly threatened anti-polio workers, saying the vaccination drive is a Muslim plot to sterilize Muslims or spy on them. But they have denied responsibility for this week's shootings.


Suspicion of the campaign surged last year after revelations that the CIA had used the cover of a fake vaccination campaign to try to gather intelligence on Osama bin Laden before he was killed in his hideout in a Pakistani town.

But many of Pakistan's most important clerics have issued fatwas, or decrees, in support of the polio campaign. Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia encourage vaccinations against polio, which can kill or paralyze within hours of infection.

The disagreement between some clerics and militants may be indicative of a wider drop in support for militancy in Pakistan, said Mansur Khan Mahsud, director of research at the Islamabad-based think-tank the FATA Research Center.

Opinion polls the centre carried out in ethnic Pashtun lands on the Afghan border, known as the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), showed support for the Taliban dropping from 50 percent 2010 to about 20 percent in May 2012.

Mahsud said many people had welcomed the Taliban because they believed Islamic law would help address corruption and injustice. But as the Taliban began executing and kidnapping people, some turned against them.

In a widely publicized incident in October, Taliban gunman shot a 15-year-old schoolgirl campaigner for girls' education in the head and wounded two of her classmates.

Schoolgirl Malala Yousufzai survived and the wave of condemnation that followed the attack prompted the Taliban to release statements justifying their action.

The killings of the health workers struck a similar nerve, Ashrafi said. The girls got a small stipend for their work but were motivated to try to help children, he said.

"You think they went out to administer the drops despite the threats and risked their lives for 200 rupees ($2) a day? They were there because of their essential goodness," he said.

"Imagine what the families are going through."

Anonymous said...

"I agree with your conclusion that Taliban would be swept away."

This is just a conclusion of one person.

Hopewins said...

Your friend Sanjiv Miglani's new article (linked on your own blog as "Now or Never") EXPLAINS why the Talivan are attacking Polio Workers...

We don't seem to need complex social theories. The explanation, as it turns out, is a matter of simple tactics & strategy.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from Nature magazine on polio worker killings in Pakistan:

Pakistan is one of just three countries where the polio virus has stubbornly resisted eradication efforts (Afghanistan and Nigeria are the other two). In 2011, Pakistan led the world with 175 confirmed cases. However, changes to the programme’s management had helped to spark a turnaround. This year Pakistan has recorded just 56 cases, and the virus has been cornered to some segments of the population in just a few regions. Global attention turned to Nigeria, the only country to see a year-on-year rise in polio cases this year.

Heidi Larson, an anthropologist who studies vaccination at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, compared this week’s killings in Pakistan to a 2003 immunisation boycott in northern Nigeria, which was led by religious leaders. The virus rebounded in Nigeria and temporarily spread to other African and Asian countries that had already wiped out polio.

“In the same way that the northern-Nigeria boycott was a game changer, I think this is,” Larson says.

Nationwide polio vaccination, the foundation of the eradication campaign, should be reconsidered in some parts of Pakistan, Larson suggests. “I think we have to be thinking much more about embedding polio into some of the [routine] health services, so it’s not sticking its neck out.”

Zulfiqar Bhutta, an immunisation expert at Aga Khan University in Karachi, sees the killings as further backlash from the 2011 revelation that the US Central Intelligence Agency may have used a vaccination programme (though not of polio) in an effort to obtain DNA from children living in Osama bin Laden’s secret holdout in Abbottabad, in the north of the country. The affair turned polio into a “lightning rod” for extremists, says Bhutta.

Bhutta also worries that the latest violence will have a chilling effect on recruiting the tens of thousands of vaccination workers needed to carry out a national immunisation campaign. “Once you start killing young girls, who is going to volunteer for this kind of activity?" he asks.

The killings have been widely condemned by religious leaders and politicians in Pakistan, and sparked public protests led by vaccination workers who are calling for improved security. Durry hopes such sentiments will galvanise the country. “This is a major, major unmistakable tragedy, and it will create an opportunity to make this programme a true national cause, Durry says. "The bottom line is that the country is determined to finish the job."

Riaz Haq said...

HWJ: "We don't seem to need complex social theories. The explanation, as it turns out, is a matter of simple tactics & strategy."

Tactics and strategy do not explain the underlying cause which my post addresses.

Hopewins said...

^^Larson suggests. “I think we have to be thinking much more about embedding polio into some of the [routine] health services, so it’s not sticking its neck out.”

This is naivete beyond belief.

If you embed the "lightening rod" Polio campaign into routine health service, they will begin attacking the WHOLE health service system.

It will be an UNMITIGATED disaster for Pakistani society.

It would be much better to give them what they want: An end to the drone strikes.

And then wait until they make their next demand, and the next one and so on......

Hopewins said...

Why are Taliban against Schools for Girls?

ANSWER: This is exactly how it was in England when they were poor. It is a question of resource distribution.

In the Pashtun areas, they only have resources to send 50% of the children to school. If there are no Girls schools then all the resources can be focused on the boys and each family will have the same number of children going to school.

If we divide the resources such that the 50% of children as split between 25% boys and 25% girls, then some families will have all their children in school and other families will have none.

In time, this destroys the tribal cohesion and creates a divided class based society.

This is why, when the West was poor, all their schools and colleges had only boys in them. Once they had grown so that they had sufficient resources for everyone, education for girls became acceptable.

So the Taliban are CORRECT, in the context of their poverty. If their areas see economic growth such that enough resources become available for all children to go to school, then they too (like the West) will drop their opposition to education for girls.

What the Western & Westernized pseudointellectual don't understand is that the path of development from poverty to plenty is determined by hard constraint and is not guided by touchy-feely things like "women's rights". It is NOT correct to judge the Taliban views in the context of Western values TODAY, we must judge them according to their material environment which is what the west was like 300 years ago.

Believe me, the Taliban know what they are doing. They WILL win. And all the muddled-headed pseudo-intellectuals of the westernized king will LOSE.

No amount of sophistry changes the hard facts on the ground. This is the principal lesson of history.

Taj said...

"In my view, the medieval-minded Taliban are no match for the powerful revolutionary social changes sweeping Pakistan today. They will be swept away as Pakistan becomes a prosperous and urban middle class nation with full participation of empowered women in all walks of life."

Mr. Haq, are you dreaming, or living in a la-la land. Pakistan becoming a prosperous and urban middle class nation ??? with full participation of empowered women in all walks of life ??? Please wake up.

Riaz Haq said...

Taj: "Mr. Haq, are you dreaming, or living in a la-la land. Pakistan becoming a prosperous and urban middle class nation ??? with full participation of empowered women in all walks of life ??? Please wake up."

Pakistan is already 40% middle class (ADB report on Asia's Rising Middle Class ) and 50% urban (Reza Ali ).

As to prosperity, Euromonitor data shows disposable income of Pakistani households has risen 282% from 1995 to 2009. ( ).

The number of women in the work force has increased from 14% to 31% in the last decade. ( ). Rising number of working women translates into higher household incomes.

I think you need to wake up and do a reality check.

Riaz Haq said...

HWJ: "It would be much better to give them what they want: An end to the drone strikes."

Absolutely not!!!

The reason the Taliban are so vehemently opposed to drone strikes is because such strikes are working...increase in drone strikes ( ) combined with Pak military operations in FATA have resulted in decreasing death toll (from about 12,000 in 2009 to about 6000 in 2012) in Pakistan according to South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP).

Pakistanis do not oppose drone strikes per se...they oppose US drone strikes because they see such strikes as a violation of sovereignty. If Pakistani military were to do these strikes (as it already does with F-16s), there would be significantly less opposition.

Suhail said...

Riaz is a compulsive optimist when it comes to Pakistan's future. However, unabated optimism is usually detrimental to the objective and a more realistic approach is generally more productive.

Pakistan's "urbanization" is not the same as elsewhere in the world; the rapidly dominating tribal influence has its impact here too. Karachi is Pakistan's fastest growing urban center and the biggest influx here is of the Pakhtoons. Any anti-terrorist operation in Swat, Waziristan or elsewhere in KP or FATA leads to major influx of tribal Taliban in Karachi. For example the vast tracts of Manghopir hills bordering North Nazimabad, SITE, Orangi and the Manghopir Industrial Area are now the dominion of Mehsood tribes and run just like Waziristan tribal areas. Even the army has given up trying to administer this area while Rangers and police are non-existent; Pakistani state treats it practically like a tribal area. The tribal dominion is spreading beyond the mountains into the adjoining areas of SITE, North Nazimabad etc. For example, the strip adjacent to the hills in North Nazimabad (Shipowners College strip that Shams has walked a lot on) has been turned into a rustic Pakhtoon area from a well organized urban locality as previous. The same phenomenon holds on the entry/exit points into Karachi, Sohrab Goth on Super Highway and Quaidabad on National Highway. So this "urbanization" is increasing the primitive tribal influence in Karachi.

Urbanization of Lahore is on a conventional pattern and can be called a step forward towards progress. However, this is because Punjab government and Lahoris in general do not allow Pakhtoons to settle in Lahore. Similarly they do not allow Seraikis who also migrate to Karachi. The "urbanization" of Lahore cannot, therefore, be glorified because it is due to the unjust principle of not allowing countrymen from other provinces to settle down.

Riaz Haq said...

Suhail: "Riaz is a compulsive optimist when it comes to Pakistan's future. However, unabated optimism is usually detrimental"

I consider myself a rational optimist. My optimism is based on my knowledge of history and careful analysis of data and trends which I explain in my posts.

Migration is a messy process in most nations at various stages of development. The only exceptions are countries with authoritarian governments like China's where there are severe travel restrictions and permit requirements for migrants who try to go to seek work and settle in cities.

The first generation of migrants is usually the most disruptive because it brings its old ways and traditions with it. The first generation also faces opposition and discrimination and it takes at least one generation to change and accept new ways and gradually become urbanized.

There are many benefits of rural to urban migration for migrants' lives, including reduction in abject poverty, empowerment of women, increased access to jobs, healthcare and education and other services. Historically, cities have been driving forces in economic and social development. As centers of industry and commerce, cities have long been centers of wealth and power. They also account for a disproportionate share of national income. The World Bank estimates that in the developing world, as much as 80 percent of future economic growth will occur in towns and cities. Nor are the benefits of urbanization solely economic. Urbanization is associated with higher incomes, improved health, higher literacy, and improved quality of life. Other benefits of urban life are less tangible but no less real: access to information, diversity, creativity, and innovation.

Let’s take a concrete example. Orangi Town in Karachi has a huge population of migrants from KP. Orangi has schools, hospitals, jobs, roads, basic sanitation and many other services that barely exist in places where the migrants came from. Orangi Town has made it possible for many poor migrants and their children to move up into the growing middle class in Pakistan.

As to ethnic violence resulting from migration, let me quote Steve Inskeep's "Instant City: Life and Death in Karachi", in which the author draws parallels between the Chicago of 1950s and 1960s and the rapidly growing cities in the developing world like Mumbai (India), Karachi (Pakistan) and Port Harcourt (Nigeria) in the following words:

"Karachi was one of many growing cities made turbulent by ethnic politics. In recent years an ethnic political party has controlled Mumbai, India, imposing a regional language on the government of an aspiring world city. In the growing oil city of Port Harcourt, Nigeria, Internet cafes and churches line the commercial streets, while ethnic militias rule the backstreets and set neighborhoods on fire. None of this will surprise people who study the history of American cities. Chicago, for example, grew explosively from the 1830s onward--it was an instant city in its time--newcomers clustered defensively in their various neighborhoods. As late as the 1950s, immigrants and their children drew battle lines along major streets or railroad tracks.."

Taj said...

I admire your knowledge and I highly appreciate your writings. However, looking at all the people that I know in Pakistan, my family and my friends, and my visits, things today are not better than a decade ago, or two decades ago. I am not arguing your numbers.
Many years ago, back in the late 70s or early 80s, my young nephew asked me as to when will I consider Pakistan to be a good place to live and raise a family. I told him that I have only two basic standards : (1) when I need water, I can turn on the faucet and drink it from there, and (2) when I turn on the light bulb, the room is illuminated. Later on I added a third standard : (3) Social Justice.

Riaz Haq said...

Taj: "I admire your knowledge and I highly appreciate your writings. However, looking at all the people that I know in Pakistan, my family and my friends, and my visits, things today are not better than a decade ago, or two decades ago."

Every indicator, except security, has significantly improved in Pakistan in the last two decades.

In the words of a Pakistani sociologist Arif Hasan, the "peace of the dead" imposed by the old unjust order is long gone and the ordinary people are living better, longer and healthier lives than they ever have in Pakistan. There is less poverty and hunger, higher levels of literacy and education, longer life expectancy, and greater upward mobility.

As to your first two standards about reliable water and electricity to qualify as a place for you to live, you have essentially ruled out almost all of the developing world.

In terms of your third standard of social justice, Pakistan is among the most egalitarian in terms of income equality and upward economic mobility....more than the United States.

Shams said...

Suhail is not 100% accurate in saying that you are compulsive optimist. I claim that you are delusionally optimist if you think that Pathan and Punjabi/Saraiki migration into Karachi is good for Karachi. In fact, you are insane. However, you are in majority since according to one study, 80% of humans are delusionally optimists .

Quoting 3rd party losers does not make your points stronger -- your points have to stand their own ground.

Karachi has been systematically destroyed by the f----- Punjabis who schemed to destroy the city only to propel Lahore as a more suitable option for the industrialists. The issue in Karachi, again systematically developed by the Punjabi federation government, was that at the top, there has always been a most incompetent chief minister -- the current one being always dosed out from BHANG, and thus, there has been no management of the immigration of the f---- Pathans.

Riaz Haq said...

Shams: "Karachi has been systematically destroyed by the f----- Punjabis who schemed to destroy the city only to propel Lahore as a more suitable option for the industrialists. ... and thus, there has been no management of the immigration of the f---- Pathans"

Your bigoted rants are identical to Bal Thackeray's Shiv Sena who blame the "Bhayyas" (migrants from UP and Bihar) for all of Mumbai's problems of filth and violence.

Shams said...

Basheer Bilor is another note on Pakistan's revolution towards a new economic apex.

Riaz Haq said...

Shams: " Basheer Bilor is another note on Pakistan's revolution towards a new economic apex."

Nothing risked, nothing gained!

The Taliban have killed over 400 ANP members so far.

May Basheer Bilor's soul rest in peace. Amen!

Kudos to ANP for standing up to the Taliban and sacrificing their lives and property for a principle.

ANP and MQM are the only two parties that unequivocally condemn the Taliban while others either sympathize with the Talibs
or refuse to take a stand against them out of fear.

Instead of fighting each other ANP and MQM should join hands to rid Pakistan of this fitna.

Na Haq Kay Leay Uthe to Shamsheer Bhi Fitna.

Shamsheer Hai Kya Nara-e-Takbeer Bhi Fitna

Suhail said...

You are advised to look into the dynamics of ANP to know its contradictions regarding their opposition and alignment with Taliban.

Bashir Bilour's elder brother Ghulam Ahmed Bilour (the Railways Minister) offered a $100,000 reward to person who kills the anti-Islam movie maker which created chaos recently. After this announcement, Taliban took his name off their hit list and sure enough he was not targeted yesterday. The old guard of ANP, mainly in KP, are the ones still aligned to secular anti-Taliban politics. The younger elements form bulk of its supporters have Taliban leanings even in KP.

In Karachi, ANP and Taliban are in alliance against MQM. Shahi Syed does not even accept the presence of Taliban in Karachi though all safe havens of Taliban are in Pakhtoon dominated traditionally ANP areas. ANP political clout is helping Taliban against law enforcers also, besides providing political cover and legitimacy. I would agree with Shams that it will be safer for MQM to align with Taliban, rather than taking on ANP/Taliban together in a battle that will destroy themselves.

Hopewins said...

^^RH:"Nothing risked, nothing gained"

Again, the elementary flaw in logic.

While it may be argued that it is not possible to gain something without losing something else, it is NOT correct to say the inverse, i.e. that losing something necessarily means gaining something else.

No revolution has succeeded without loss of life. But merely the presense of loss of life does not imply either a revolution or a guarantee of its success.

Please correct yourself.

Riaz Haq said...

Suhail: "In Karachi, ANP and Taliban are in alliance against MQM. Shahi Syed does not even accept the presence of Taliban in Karachi though all safe havens of Taliban are in Pakhtoon dominated traditionally ANP areas. "

The Taliban have killed over 400 ANP members and killed far more Pashtuns than any other ethnic group in Pakistan.

I think the problem is that there are hawkish ethnic bigots in both ANP and MQM.

Ethnic hawks in MQM need to stop accusing every Pathan of being a Taliban and the ANP leadership needs to remony ave Taliban sympathizers from its ranks.

It's the only way for them to deal with the much larger and much more deadly common threat they both face.

Suhail said...

ANP dilemma of its old guard still retaining the secular traditions and the emerging new leadership turning it into a Pakhtoon nationalist party (thus encompassing Taliban), is a very real issue. The killing of 400 ANP members by Taliban is also one of the reasons for ANP cadres adopting a prudent and safer politics by going for Pakhtoon nationalism rather than secularism. With ANP (including Taliban) becoming one of the two biggest ransom/bhatta mafias in Karachi (along with Peoples Amn Committee), they are into big business also thus compromising their traditional ideology. Of course the old guard cannot offer comparable material incentives to them.

While attempting a parallel between MQM and ANP, it is of note that MQM have maintained consistency regarding opposition to Taliban/religious extremists and never compromised with mohajir Jamaatis even in times of ethnic troubles. The ANP/Taliban case is diametrically opposed.

You need to take your position on this matter carefully as this is a litmus test of your being rational or delusional.

Riaz Haq said...

Suhail: "The killing of 400 ANP members by Taliban is also one of the reasons for ANP cadres adopting a prudent and safer politics by going for Pakhtoon nationalism rather than secularism....You need to take your position on this matter carefully as this is a litmus test of your being rational or delusional."

All of the available data from various sources indicates that KP has been hit the worst by Taliban terror.

Given all the stats, I believe it's not at all rational to argue that ANP and Taliban are collaborating in the name of Pukhtoon nationalism when the biggest victims of the Taliban violence are the Pukhtoons themselves including the ANP leadership.

Twister said...

I highly doubt feudalism is going anywhere. We undid all progress that was made towards land reforms in 1990 when the judgement on Qazalbash Qhf vs Chief Land Commissioner was handed down.

Suhail said...

The only question that remains to be answered is why are the Taliban living safely and operating from areas of ANP influence in Karachi, given the fact that Taliban aims and objectives are consistently the same in KP and Karachi; in fact throughout Pakistan.

Riaz Haq said...

Suhail: "The only question that remains to be answered is why are the Taliban living safely and operating from areas of ANP influence in Karachi, given the fact that Taliban aims and objectives are consistently the same in KP and Karachi; in fact throughout Pakistan."

I don't believe ANP, or any other entity, has full control of all Pukhtoon areas in Karachi, KP or FATA.

In fact, many of these areas are where the ANP leadership is targeted and killed by the Taliban who are mostly tribals from FATA regions like North and South Waziristan.

ANP is going to have a very difficult time campaigning in the upcoming elections in all of these areas and might lose seats to rival groups.

Hopewins said...

^^RH: "Given all the stats, I believe it's not at all rational to argue that ANP and Taliban are collaborating in the name of Pukhtoon nationalism when the biggest victims of the Taliban violence are the Pukhtoons themselves including the ANP leaders"

Did you even read what Suhail wrote?

Suhail said:

"ANP...OLD guard still retaining the secular traditions..BUT...the EMERGING NEW leadership turning it into a Pakhtoon nationalist party (thus encompassing Taliban), is a very real issue. The KILLING of 400 ANP members by Taliban is also ONE OF THE REASONS for ANP cadres adopting a prudent and safer politics by going for Pakhtoon nationalism rather than secularism."

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt of Shahid Burki's Op Ed in the Express Tribune:

(Prof) Hirschman looked at three possibilities. People could remain loyal to the system that has caused them anxiety and despair. In that case, their hope will be that they can work within the system to reform it and thus improve their own situation in it. This happens in most functioning democracies. People use the opportunities inherent in democratic systems to improve what they receive from politics and economics. The second option is to raise their voice. That can be done by stepping out of the system and entering into a different kind of discourse. This is essentially what was done by the participants in the Arab Spring. The Arab street woke up when the realisation became acute that the autocratic structures in several Arab states did not have the space in which the alienated could raise their voice. They took to the streets and to the public squares and brought about regime change in several countries that had been governed for decades by autocrats.

The third option — of exiting the system — is the most radical of the three that Hirschman considered. This has happened in Syria. Earlier, it happened in Pakistan when the citizens of the eastern wing decided to opt out and create a country of their own. They had tried hard to remain within the Pakistani system as conceived by Mohammad Ali Jinnah but the political structure within West Pakistan could not countenance the idea of political power moving from Islamabad to Dhaka. That would have happened had the results of the 1970 election been allowed to create the government that would have been dominated by East Pakistan’s Awami League. What followed is familiar history.

There can be no denying the fact that the level of people’s alienation with the current economic and political systems in Pakistan has, at this time, reached a level never experienced before. And yet, the citizens have chosen to remain within the developing political order, rather than opt out and try for something new. That the people’s response this time around has been different from those in the Arab world is because of their belief in the political order that is under development. But the process of development has been messy which was to be expected. This brings me to another point that Hirschman developed in his long academic career.

He was of the view that progress is never linear. It does not happen in a smooth way, either with the economy or with the political system. Most systems operate through disequilibria making adjustments as they go along....

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a NY Times Op Ed on a woman's experience of living in Delhi:

I LIVED for 24 years in New Delhi, a city where sexual harassment is as regular as mealtime. Every day, somewhere in the city, it crosses the line into rape.

As a teenager, I learned to protect myself. I never stood alone if I could help it, and I walked quickly, crossing my arms over my chest, refusing to make eye contact or smile. I cleaved through crowds shoulder-first, and avoided leaving the house after dark except in a private car. At an age when young women elsewhere were experimenting with daring new looks, I wore clothes that were two sizes too large. I still cannot dress attractively without feeling that I am endangering myself.

Things didn’t change when I became an adult. Pepper spray wasn’t available, and my friends, all of them middle- or upper-middle-class like me, carried safety pins or other makeshift weapons to and from their universities and jobs. One carried a knife, and insisted I do the same. I refused; some days I was so full of anger I would have used it — or, worse, had it used on me.

The steady thrum of whistles, catcalls, hisses, sexual innuendos and open threats continued. Packs of men dawdled on the street, and singing Hindi film songs, rich with double entendres, was how they communicated. To make their demands clear, they would thrust their pelvises at female passers-by.

If only it was just public spaces that were unsafe. In my office at a prominent newsmagazine, at the doctor’s office, even at a house party — I couldn’t escape the intimidation.

On Dec. 16, as the world now knows, a 23-year-old woman and a male friend were returning home after watching the movie “Life of Pi” at a mall in southwest Delhi. After they boarded what seemed to be a passenger bus, the six men inside gang-raped and tortured the woman so brutally that her intestines were destroyed. The bus service had been a ruse. The attackers also severely beat up the woman’s friend and threw them from the vehicle, leaving her to die.

The young woman didn’t oblige. She had started that evening watching a film about a survivor, and must have been determined to survive herself. Then she produced another miracle. In Delhi, a city habituated to the debasement of women, tens of thousands of people took to the streets and faced down police officers, tear gas and water cannons to express their outrage. It was the most vocal protest against sexual assault and rape in India to date, and it set off nationwide demonstrations.
The volume of protests in public and in the media has made clear that the attack was a turning point. The unspeakable truth is that the young woman attacked on Dec. 16 was more fortunate than many rape victims. She was among the very few to receive anything close to justice. She was hospitalized, her statement was recorded and within days all six of the suspected rapists were caught and, now, charged with murder. Such efficiency is unheard-of in India.

In retrospect it wasn’t the brutality of the attack on the young woman that made her tragedy unusual; it was that an attack had, at last, elicited a response.

Hopewins said...

^^RH: "Here's a NY Times Op Ed on a woman's experience of living in Delhi..."

SONIA FALEIRO: "When I was 26, I moved to Mumbai. A commercial and financial megalopolis, it has its own special set of problems, but has, culturally, been more cosmopolitan and liberal than Delhi. Giddy with my new freedom, I started to report from the red-light district and traveled across rough suburbs late at night — on my own and using public transit. It seemed that something good had come out of living in Delhi: I was so grateful for the comparatively safe environment of Mumbai that I took full advantage of it."


Sonia Faleiro: "If potential rapists fear the consequences of their actions, they will not pluck women off the streets with impunity"

This is a misunderstanding of what happens in India (or elsewhere). MOST rape cases (like murder) do not involve "plucking women off the street". In India, the statistics show that 95% of rapes are committed by someone whom the victim knew before-hand. "Stranger rape" is only 5%. In the West, since they don't include "frat parties" & "one-night stands" as people the victim "knew", the statistic comes down a little to 80% of all rapes.

Even in this particularly horrendous case, I am willing to bet that the "gym instructor" assailant KNEW the "physiotherapy student" victim. This was NOT a random attack by strangers on strangers, but was carefully pre-planned. I will bet that investigations & interrogations will later reveal that there was some sort of "bad blood" between the "gym instructor" assailant and the "physiotherapy-student" victim. This does not show the M.O. of a random attack. The disproportional severity of the violence to the woman shows an intense directed-hatred that is likely to have a past cause. Let us wait and see....

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Dawn News on Pak Army's internal threat assessment:

The Pakistan army has changed its operational priorities for the first time in eleven years and described internal threats as the greatest risk to the country’s security, DawnNews reported on Wednesday.

The ongoing guerrilla war in the tribal area near borders with Afghanistan and armed attacks from different groups and elements on security installations and in cities were mentioned as biggest security threat in the new ‘army doctrine.’

The army publishes the doctrine to review its war preparedness and capabilities in order to keep them on the right track.

A new chapter, ‘sub-conventional warfare’ has been included in the “green book” for the first time.

Without naming characters in the war, the book talked about few groups and elements and also mentioned cross-border attacks from Afghanistan.

The over 200-page green book is being distributed among military commanders and the military sources said that it would also be shared with the public and will also be posted on the army’s website at an appropriate time.

According to BBC, defence analyst Talat Masood says that Pakistan army for the first time has admitted that the real threat is emanating internally and along the western borders and not from India, which was previously considered as number one enemy of the state.

Hopewins said...

Mullah Nazir, who had made a peace deal with our Army, killed in US Drone Attack...

Riaz Haq said...

HWJ: "Mullah Nazir, who had made a peace deal with our Army, killed in US Drone Attack..."

Pakistani Taliban also tried tied to kill Mullah Nazir earlier in a suicide attack.

This mullah was a common enemy of both US and TTP.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are a few excerpts of a Time magazine story on polio in Pakistan:

...Despite the shootings in Pakistan, the most worrisome place in terms of caseload is Nigeria. It's the only country whose polio rates actually went up in 2012, to 118 cases compared with 62 in 2011. (In Pakistan, there were 57 cases in 2012 and 198 in 2011.) Nigeria's problem area continues to be the north, with antivaccine propaganda again leading to refusals. In 2012, WHO dramatically increased its presence in the country, from 744 workers to 2,948. It is also using satellite mapping to reach children in villages that, says John Hewko, general secretary of Rotary International, "we didn't even know existed."

Afghanistan, so often a source of trouble in the region, is moving comparatively smoothly toward eradication, with just 35 cases in 2012, down from 80 in 2011. The Islamic Development Bank has made a $3 million grant to Afghanistan to help antipolio efforts. That's just a small fraction of the $227 million the bank made available to Pakistan, also for polio vaccinations, but the disparity in funding partly reflects the disparity in need. What's more, the fact that the bank is involved at all suggests a regional buy-in that was lacking before.
It's also a hopeful sign that the leaders of all three endemic countries have put their prestige on the line. Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan pledges that polio will be wiped out in his country by 2015. Afghanistan's Hamid Karzai signed a polio-eradication plan in September and made a show of personally administering drops to children. But it's Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari who has the most to gain--and lose--in the polio campaign. His daughter Asifa Bhutto Zardari is a leading spokeswoman for the eradication effort, recalling in speeches that her mother--the late Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated in 2007--administered the vaccine to her when she was a child. President Zardari speaks of "my martyred wife," who dreamed of a world free of disease.

Pakistan is putting institutional power behind the sentimental appeals. After the December shootings, the government temporarily suspended the inoculation program, but Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf quickly issued a statement confirming the country's commitment to the campaign. He called for an inquiry into the attacks, promised the safety of polio workers and pledged to proceed with plans to deploy 250,000 health workers to vaccinate 34 million children in 2013. Polio teams will continue to work at toll plazas, boarding buses and looking for children who don't have blue ink staining a finger--a mark applied by field workers after a vaccine has been administered. When they find an unmarked child, they vaccinate on the spot.

Appeals to religion and reason are being deployed as well. Health workers in tribal areas cite Koran verses that encourage the care of children and reach out to local religious leaders for support. If the mullah in Mohib Banda had endorsed the vaccine, says Saiful Islam, father of the paralyzed 6-month-old girl, "100% of the village would have accepted it." And how to answer those rumors of vaccine-related sterility? Tahira Yasmin, a polio worker for UNICEF, has a way: "I tell them I am married and young. If I were worried, I would not take it," she says. Then she downs a few drops. "They laugh and they let their children take it."

Hopewins said...

Altaf Hussain will be returning to Pakistan tomorrow and will show himself to the public on Tuesday.

He claims that he is returning because he feels that the threat to the existence of Pakistan created by his absence is greater than the threat to his own life created by his presence.

I think we should have some high drama on this issue soon....

Riaz Haq said...

Here's ET on resumption of anti-polio campaign in Karachi:

KARACHI: The polio eradication campaign, which was halted after the killing of four vaccinators in Karachi, restarted on Monday, Express News reported.

On the first day of the two-day campaign, children under the age of five were vaccinated in central Karachi. Children in other parts of the city will be administered polio drops on Tuesday.

The campaign aims to vaccinate more than 2.5 million children.

Given the security threats, the anti-polio campaigners are provided high security.

Pakistan is one of three countries in the world still at risk of polio virus but the door-to-door campaign to get rid of the disease was stopped after five female health workers were shot dead in December 2012 at the start of a nationwide polio vaccination drive.

The seemingly coordinated attacks in Karachi and Peshawar raised fears for the safety of inoculators and highlighted resistance to a campaign by the Taliban.

Riaz Haq said...

Kudos to the brave workers carrying out the vaccination campaign. It's because of their service that polio cases in Pakistan significantly declined from 198 in 2011 to 57 in 2012.

Riaz Haq said...

Polio workers back to work in Peshawar, reports Aljazeera:

Health workers are back on the streets of Peshawar in Pakistan, defying death threats so they can vaccinate children against polio.

Nine of their colleagues were killed last month, and now they have been given extra security.

Despite the risks, many health workers say they must carry out this important task. Last year, 58 cases of polio were reported in Pakistan last year.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a report on rising use of contraceptives in Pakistan:

ISLAMABAD - In year 2011-12, Pakistanis used 149.278 million condoms, 6.223 million cycles of oral pills, 1.315 million insertions of internal uterine devices (IUDs) and 2.705 million vials of injectables, revealed a report released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS).

The PBS report showed an unprecedented rise in the use of condoms as a contraceptive tool during the year 2011-12 as compared to last year.

The Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA) witnessed a 60 percent increase in the use of condoms while the federal capital stood second with a rise of 27.9 percent.

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the ratio of using condoms as a contraceptive tool remained 24.5 percent while Sindh showed a rise of 20.7 percent. In Punjab, rise in the use condoms was recorded at 18.7 percent.

However, according to the report made available to Pakistan Today, a contradictory trend was witnessed in Balochistan, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir where the use of condoms as a contraceptive tool saw a decline in the year 2011-12.

Balochistan recorded a decrease of 11.8 percent in the trend of using condoms as a contraceptive tool whereas the popularity graph of condoms fell down in Gilgit-Baltistan where a decrease of 5.4 percent was recorded.

In Azad jammu and Kashmir, there was a decrease of 1.3 percent in the use of condoms.

For oral pills, the report showed that FATA remained at the top with an increase of 46.2 percent in their use followed by Gilgit-Baltistan with a rise of 20.8 percent and the third place was occupied by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with 12.0 percent.

In federal capital, the use of oral pills as a means of contraception showed a rise by 4.5 percent, Punjab 3.2 percent and Sindh showed a rise of 2.1 percent.

Again in the case of Balochistan, the use of oral pills was discouraged by locals. The report showed that the use of oral contraceptive pills had decreased by 21.3 percent.

The province/sector-wise comparison of contraceptive performance during the financial year 2011 -12 in terms of Couple Year of Protection (CYP) – an international indicator for data collection – has been made with the previous year 2010-11 which showed that at the national level, an increase of 0.7 percent had been observed for all programme and non-programme outlets during 2011-12 as compared with 2010 -11.

As far as the district Islamabad and FATA are concerned, the contraceptive performance for the financial year 2011-12 compared with 2010-11 depicted an increase of 19.5 percent and 37.4 percent respectively, whereas a decrease of 2.9 percent and 12.0 percent had been recorded in AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan.

Anonymous said...

I read your post (and also some of the comments)with great interest and a sense of optimism. When I learned what the CIA had done I was aghast, but not surprised. That aspect was not reported in New Zealand, only that Osama had been taken and Pakistan was not very happy about it. Not good reporting by the news media. Thankyou for posting and good luck.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an NBC report on the killing of aid workers since the US raid that killed UBL in Abbottabad:

PESHAWAR, Pakistan – When U.S. Navy SEALs stormed a compound in Abbottabad to kill Osama bin Laden on May 2, 2011, two young female polio workers - Sharafat Bibi and Sunbal Bibi - had no idea it would one day be a justification for their murder.
Sharafat and Sunbal were killed by unidentified armed men on May 28 in a village in Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, where they were administering anti-polio vaccines to the children.
They are among 20 people, three of them security personnel, who have been gunned down by suspected militants during the last two years for vaccinating children against polio.

Pakistan aid workers say their woes began when it emerged that Dr. Shakil Afridi, a Pakistani physician, ran a fake vaccination campaign in the garrison city of Abbottabad to collect DNA samples from bin Laden and his family to prove his presence there to the CIA.
There is outrage in Pakistan that Afridi helped the U.S. government capture and kill the terror mastermind on their sovereign territory. He was sentenced to 33 years' imprisonment for treason on May 23, 2012. Afridi is appealing the verdict; his next hearing is scheduled for July 18.
But many Pakistani aid workers say they are paying the ultimate price for Afridi’s actions. Ever since his role in the bin Laden compound attack was revealed, their job has become increasingly dangerous and now most parts of the country have become “no go” zones for aid workers.
‘We cannot move freely’
Dr. Janbaz Afridi, deputy director Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI), in Peshawar believes the day people learned about the “dirty work” of Afridi in Abbottabad, they started opposing polio drops being given to their children and started to suspect that all polio workers were spies.
Militants have tried to block the vaccinations, saying they are part of a conspiracy to sterilize and reduce the world's Muslim population.
Janbaz Afridi, no relation of Shakil, said that since then UNICEF and the World Health Organization have spent millions of dollars on communication experts to create awareness campaigns, but that the strategy appears to have backfired as the number of parents refusing vaccines to their children is on the rise.
WHO said at the end of March that as many as 240,000 Pakistani children have missed getting their polio vaccinations in the North and South Waziristan regions - Taliban strongholds - since July 2012....

Riaz Haq said...

There are some who single out Pakistan's poor and barely literate Taliban and other Islamic radicals for deservedly harsh criticism for stopping vaccinations. However, there's a strong anti-vaccination movement in the United States as well. Doctors and celebrities are part of it. Earlier this year, researchers confirmed that a 2010 whooping cough outbreak in California, the nation's worst in over 50 years, was spread by children whose parents applied for non-medical exemptions to school vaccination requirements, many for religious reasons. The study showed that more cases of whooping cough occurred in the clusters of unvaccinated children than not, resulting in 9,120 instances of the disease and 10 deaths. In San Diego county alone, there were 5,100 exemptions and 980 whooping cough cases. In August, the Texas megachurch Eagle Mountain International Church made headlines after 21 members of its congregation contracted measles. Coincidently, the outbreak occurred during National Immunization Awareness Month.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an AFP story on anti-polio campaign in Pakistan's North West:

Peshawar: Pakistani health teams will on Sunday launch a drive to vaccinate some 750,000 children in the troubled north-west, with thousands of police guarding against attacks by militants who claim the polio campaign is a front for spying.
The campaign in Peshawar district, which covers Peshawar city and dozens of towns and villages, is the ninth phase of a push to eradicate polio in Pakistan, which along with Nigeria and Afghanistan are the only countries where the disease remains endemic.
The World Health Organisation has warned that Peshawar is the world’s “largest reservoir” of polio.
“At least 750,000 children will be administered the vaccine in Peshawar district where 335,000 houses have been identified for the purpose,” campaign organiser Yunus Zaheer told AFP on Saturday.

The campaign, which started early February, will continue until the end of April.
Vaccinators go door-to-door every Sunday across Peshawar district to administer drops to children for various diseases including polio, tuberculosis, tetanus, pneumonia, whooping cough, measles and hepatitis.
Zaheer said more than 6,200 teams comprising 12,500 workers have been set up to administer the vaccines, adding 6,700 police officials would be deployed on security duty during the campaign.
He said the campaign is likely to be extended to other districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province later.
A senior local administration official, Zaheer-ul-Islam, also confirmed the details of the campaign.
According to the WHO, Pakistan recorded 91 cases of polio last year, up from 58 in 2012.
Pakistan’s failure to defeat polio stands in stark contrast to its neighbour and great rival India, which recently celebrated the eradication of the disease three years after its last case.
Some 56 people including health workers and police officials providing security have been killed in militant attacks on polio vaccination teams in Pakistan since December 2012.
Militant groups such as the Pakistani Taliban oppose the immunisation drive, saying it is a cover for US spying.
Violence, and the threat of it, have badly hampered the campaign to stamp out polio in Pakistan.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a NY Times story on polio worries among the rich in Pakistan:

Until recently, polio was considered a poor man’s problem in Pakistan — a crippling virus that festered in the mountainous tribal belt, traversed the country on interprovincial buses, and spread via infected children who played in the open sewers of sprawling slums.

But since the World Health Organization declared a polio emergency here last week — identifying Pakistan, Syria and Cameroon as the world’s main reservoirs of the virus — the disease has become an urgent concern of the wealthy, too.

A W.H.O. recommendation that travelers not leave Pakistan without a polio vaccination certificate has caused confusion. Doctors, clinics and hospitals have been inundated with inquiries. The association of travel agents has reported “panic” among air travel customers.

Sakhina, a 3-year-old girl from Kabul, has contracted polio, the first confirmed case in the capital in 12 years. Her family previously lived in Pakistan and her father is a taxi driver who travels frequently to the tribal areas.Polio’s Return After Near Eradication Prompts a Global Health WarningMAY 5, 2014
video Video: Ask Well: The Polio VaccineMAY 9, 2014
“It’s very worrisome,” said Mohammad Akbar Khan, a passenger at the Karachi airport on Thursday, as his family clustered around a desk on the departures concourse normally used to immunize infants. “We just found out about this on the news, and we’re trying to find out what to do.”

The government, which is scrambling to meet the W.H.O. requirement, says it needs two weeks to make arrangements at airports and buy more vaccines. But to most Pakistanis, it is a jolting reminder of the gravity of a crisis that has been quietly building for years, and which is now, according to the W.H.O., spilling into other countries, threatening to undo decades of efforts to eradicate polio across the globe.

Despite years of multimillion-dollar immunization campaigns, led by the government and international organizations, this year Pakistan reported 59 new polio cases, by far the most of any country. The W.H.O. had reported only 68 cases worldwide as of April 30.

Instability is driving the crisis. The Taliban, which had long opposed the vaccinations as part of what its leaders said was a Jewish conspiracy, has stymied immunization efforts in the northwest and the tribal belt, where infection rates are highest. The Taliban have forbidden vaccinations in North Waziristan for years, and killed vaccination teams in other areas.
One Pakistani Taliban militant, who identified himself as Gul, said in an interview that his group had attacked two polio teams in Karachi in 2012 because “they were trying to find the hide-outs of our leaders in these areas.”

But some experts say the bin Laden factor has been overstated, noting that the Taliban started to target polio workers long before the American commando raid that killed the Al Qaeda leader.

“The Taliban in North Waziristan didn’t stop the campaign because of Shakil Afridi, they did it for political reasons,” said Dr. Bhutta, referring to the Pakistani doctor hired by the C.I.A. to run the vaccination campaign in 2011. “And they’ve done themselves and the country a lot of damage.”

But for Mr. Ali, the immunizer jumping between buses outside Karachi, the most immediate problem is persuading reluctant parents. Some passengers offered up their children enthusiastically for immunization; others were cajoled into compliance by fellow passengers or even bus drivers.

But one mother, on a bus from Bahawalpur in Punjab Province, staunchly refused his entreaties to immunize her baby son.

“The vaccination is necessary against the virus. There are no side effects,” he pleaded.

“I’m his mother,” said the woman firmly.

Mr. Ali shrugged and retreated.

Riaz Haq said...

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — Determined to curb Pakistan’s polio crisis, police officials in the northwestern province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa said Friday that they had issued hundreds of arrest warrants for parents for refusing to vaccinate their children.

“We had 13,000 to 16,000 refusal cases,” the deputy police commissioner for Peshawar, Riaz Khan Mahsud, said in an interview. “There is total determination on our part. We shall convince parents of the good of vaccinating their children, but if they refuse, we shall detain them. There is no leniency.”

The police in other districts of the province also reported issuing warrants, though no official total was released.

“The number keeps fluctuating,” said a senior government official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the news media. “We are applying different laws. You have to resort to coercive measures when persuasion fails.”

The official added: “The application of laws is working. Some parents readily agree to vaccinate children to avoid detention. Others take a few days behind the bars to see reason. We take an affidavit from them and let them go if they bring kids for vaccination.”

Last year, 306 new polio cases were reported in Pakistan, breaking the country’s previous record high of 199 new cases in 2000.

“This was due to complacency and a very bad security situation,” said Dr. Imtiaz Ali Shah, head of the government’s polio monitoring group in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

Dr. Shah said the outbreak was particularly bad in two northwestern tribal regions, North and South Waziristan, remote areas that have been havens for militants from Al Qaeda and the Taliban and their allies, making them mostly inaccessible to vaccination teams. Then, in June, the military began an offensive in North Waziristan to root out the militants, sending hundreds of thousands of refugees into the rest of Pakistan and across the border into Afghanistan.

The refugees “took the virus with them everywhere they went — in K.P., Baluchistan and Sindh,” Dr. Shah added. “There was a Ping-Pong, cases popping up here, cases popping up there.”

Despite this, Dr. Shah said the military operation had given officials the best chance in years for polio teams to make progress in the tribal areas.

So far there have been 13 new cases in all of Pakistan this year, 11 of them from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa or the tribal regions. “We have better access and better monitoring now,” Dr. Shah said. “The quality of the campaign has improved. I am confident the cases would come down to less than 100 this year.”

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan may become #polio free by next year: #UNICEF via @CatchNews

"The progress and achievement in polio eradication efforts has raised the confidence of health teams and Pakistan has set the target of complete obstruction of polio transmission in Pakistan by May 2016," Johar said, adding, "In May 2016, Pakistan may be declared as Non-Endemic country for polio virus."

"Around 292,000 children from Khyber Agency, North Waziristan and South Waziristan Agencies were missed from immunisation in 2014 due to inaccessibility of health teams in these area," said Aqeel Ahmad, Media Liaison Officer, Polio Emergency Operation Center (EOC), FATA.

While in 2015, only 16,000 children have been missed in the country which is highly appreciable, Aqeel added.

This achievement became possible with the support of the military, especially due to improvement in security after launching of military operation Zarb-e-Azb, said Aqeel.

Johar also gave credit for reduction in polio cases to better security arrangements after launching of military operations in North Waziristan Agency and other parts of FATA including Khyber Agency.

The main reason behind the rise in number of polio cases between 2005 to 2014 was inaccessibility of health teams in tribal areas where hundreds of thousands of children were missed from immunisation resulting in contamination of disease, Johar said.

Riaz Haq said...

By tracing cellphones, #Pakistan makes inroads in war against #polio

The 85 percent decline in new cases this year is boosting confidence that Pakistani officials are on pace to stop the spread of the virus here, perhaps as early as next year. If Pakistan can achieve that goal, the world will take a major step toward becoming polio-free.

In late September, the World Health Organization declared that polio was no longer “endemic” in Nigeria, leaving only Pakistan and Afghanistan on the list of countries where the crippling virus continues to spread.

The revelation that the CIA had used a fake vaccination campaign to gain intelligence on the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden in 2011 had been a huge blow to Pakistan’s efforts against the disease, especially in areas where Islamist militant groups were strong.

But as the militants have loosened their grip on Pakistan’s northwestern tribal belt, health officials are now vaccinating hundreds of thousands of children for the first time.


That coordination began late last year as Pakistan’s army pressed into North Waziristan, which had been controlled by Taliban militants and was largely off-limits to vaccination teams.

When more than 100,000 families were evacuated from the area, they were stopped at roadside checkpoints and forced to take a drop of the polio vaccine.

Later, when the displaced residents were registered at refugee camps, they were given a surprising offer: free SIM cards for their phones.


Unbeknownst to North Waziristan residents, health officials used the SIM cards to track them as they resettled in other parts of the country. Their locations were mapped in new polio-eradication command centers. When clusters of residents from North Waziristan were identified on the map, teams of vaccinators were sent to those communities to, once again, administer the vaccine.

“We were able to trace them, map them and follow up with them,” said Safdar Rana, head of Pakistan’s Program on Immunization.

The controversial strategy was combined with outreach to religious leaders, the creation of community health centers and a renewed push to put women — not men — on the front lines of the country’s campaign to eradicate polio. But as with many other aspects of life here, the battle against polio is inextricably linked to efforts to overcome the threat posed by Islamist militancy.

Attacks on polio vaccination teams, provoked by the CIA ruse in 2011, resulted in the deaths of 74 people from 2012 to 2014, including 41 last year. So far this year, however, the number of deaths has dropped to 10, according to government figures.

Riaz Haq said...

Bill Gates predicts #polio eradication in #Pakistan by 2017 - Pakistan - Dunya News …

Bill Gates said Wednesday that "with any luck" polio will be eradicated by 2017 in the last two countries where it remains active, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The Microsoft founder, who has donated billions to fight global diseases, was speaking in Doha at the official announcement of a $50 million donation from Qatar to "The Lives and Livelihood Fund".

This is a partnership fund between the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), who together have been working to try to eradicate diseases, including polio, since 2012.

"There’s very few cases left, just two countries at this point, Pakistan and Afghanistan, and with any luck either this year or next year we will have the last cases of those," Gates said.

Pakistan has already made it an official target to rid the country of polio -- an infectious viral disease resulting in muscle damage -- in 2016 though there have already been eight recorded cases so far this year.

Although these are the two countries where the disease remains endemic, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative calculates eight countries are "vulnerable" to the virus, including Cameroon, South Sudan and Syria.

The billionaire, who is the world’s richest-man according to Forbes, is also well-known for his work in trying to combat malaria.

Earlier this year he announced the launch of a $4 billion fund to help eradicate malaria, which he called the "world’s biggest killer".

The donation he received in Doha will go towards a fund seeking to provide affordable financing for the 30 least-wealthy countries among IDB members.

It aims to ease the burden for some of the world’s poorest people through grants and Sharia-compliant loans.

Gates said the injection of cash from Qatar will enable the fund to begin its work.

"This is a great milestone for helping the poorest," he said. "Qatar has always been very generous as a donor."
In total, the fund is trying to raise $2.5 billion.

The money has been donated by Doha through the Qatar Development Fund (QDF), a public body which distributes foreign aid.

The head of the QDF, Khalifa bin Jassim Al-Kuwari, said Qatar was "very interested in poverty reduction".

"We aim at launching several projects in the health sector, which will improve the quality of life for millions of people across the Muslim world," he said.

IDB president Ahmad Mohamed Ali Al Madani said help would go to those in war-torn regions, where possible.

"We try as much as we can to help the countries that suffers from conflicts depending on conditions," he said.

"If the conditions allow us to work, the Bank works."

Riaz Haq said...

#Trump's #Afghanistan policy set to hinder #war on #polio in #Pakistan. #CIA #drones

In Pakistan and Afghanistan, the big obstacle, experts say, is not lack of money to fight it, but mistrust of the western governments who bankroll the vaccines.

Now Donald Trump could be about to deepen that mistrust. If the president makes good on his bellicose threats to take a harder line on Pakistan, he will undoubtedly incite anti-US sentiments, which in the past have led to attacks on polio workers and prompted tribal leaders to ban vaccination campaigns.

It would not be the first time the US got in the way of the war on polio.

The fight against polio suffered its biggest blow in 2011 when the CIA concocted a fake hepatitis vaccination campaign as part of its efforts to find Osama bin Laden. The ruse, exposed in the Guardian, only confirmed Taliban claims that inoculation campaigns were smokescreens for espionage. The Taliban issued fatwas and murdered dozens of health workers. In 2014, Pakistan recorded more than 300 polio cases.

But even before the vaccination ploy, polio was gaining ground, coinciding with an intensified US drone campaign. As attacks spiked in 2008, so did polio cases. When drone strikes hit a high of 128 in 2010, the number of polio cases reached 198 the following year.

Drone strikes in Pakistan have now become rare and since 2014, the fight against polio has bounced back. In 2016, only 37 cases were recorded worldwide, 20 of them in Pakistan.

Meanwhile, in his recently announced South Asia strategy, Trump signalled a tougher line on Pakistan:

“We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting. But that will have to change, and that will change immediately,” he said.

Trump has shown a penchant for airpower. In Afghanistan, the US is dropping more bombs than at any point since 2012.

It is hard to predict how local communities will respond to health workers if bombings pick up, said Monica Martinez-Bravo, a researcher at CEMFI and co-author of a new paper on mistrust of vaccines in Pakistan.

But she has documented a clear correlation between support for Islamist groups, at times a result of air campaigns, and decline in immunisation rates.

“Everything the US does that reduces trust will damage the vaccination campaigns,” Martinez-Bravo said.

Bombings complicate access for immunisers, and insurgents have used polio to demand a halt to air strikes in return for allowing vaccinations.

This year, in Kunduz in northern Afghanistan, the Taliban banned inoculators for 15 months, relenting only when a 14-month girl contracted polio.

Polio primarily affects children under five, and is incurable. The virus causes paralysis, sometimes within hours of infection. It often hits the legs and spine, but can also kill victims by immobilising breathing muscles.

Since the Global Polio Eradication Initiative was launched in 1988, an estimated 16 million people have been saved from paralysis, and 1.5 million children from death.

Yet, without sustained efforts, polio could flourish and spread quickly. For every known case, about 200 people carry the disease without symptoms.