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Opinion Pieces, Editorial Address Murders Of Polio Workers In Pakistan

Several newspapers published opinion pieces regarding the recent murders of polio vaccination workers in Pakistan. The following summarizes two opinion pieces and one editorial on the issue.

  • Washington Post: “By shooting the vaccine teams in Pakistan, the assailants are playing with fire,” a Washington Post editorial states, adding, “They have not only snuffed out the lives of humanitarian workers but blasted open a pathway for the disease to spread among children not immunized. It is hard to contemplate an ideology that would deliberately put so many people at risk.” The editorial concludes, “The gunmen cannot be allowed to shut down a vital public health campaign. Perhaps the workers will need to be better protected, but the vaccination effort must go on” (12/23).
  • Siddharth Chatterjee, Forbes: “I hope it is of some comfort that these brave individuals will be remembered as standing at the vanguard of a historic moment in global health: the final push to end polio,” Chatterjee, who works with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, writes. “[T]he fact is no acts of violence or intimidation, even as savage as the killings last week, stand a chance of derailing for any substantial amount of time the groundswell of willpower at the heart of the global anti-polio effort. History has proven that, even in cases of extreme conflict and insecurity, human determination always prevails,” he continues, concluding, “The end of polio is in sight. This is the moment our collective resolve matters most” (12/27).
  • Michael Gerson, Washington Post: “The murder of nine polio vaccination workers during 48 hours in Pakistan has all the hallmarks of a Taliban operation: coordinated, ruthless and monstrous,” Washington Post columnist Gerson writes. Gerson says although a 2011 CIA campaign to use a vaccination team to collect information from residents of Osama bin Laden’s compound damaged efforts to vaccinate children for polio in Pakistan, “[t]he conspiratorial rumors about vaccines in some Muslim societies — that they are unclean under Islamic law, that they contain the AIDS virus, that they are designed to sterilize Muslim minority groups — existed before the bin Laden raid.” He concludes, “The Taliban sacks the world and history for grievances to justify murder. And now they intentionally paralyze children as a strategy of war” (12/20).