Senior Taliban Commander Bans Polio Vaccination Efforts In Southern Region Of Pakistan
“A senior Taliban commander has effectively banned polio eradication in one of the most troubled areas of the Pakistan frontier in an effort to force the U.S. to end drone strikes,” the Guardian reports. “Leaflets distributed in South Waziristan on behalf of Mullah Nazir, the leader of the Federally Administered Tribal Agencies (Fata), accused health workers who administer anti-polio drops of being U.S. spies” and “questioned the sincerity of international efforts to tackle the highly infectious disease,” the newspaper adds.
“It is the third time a Taliban leader has banned polio vaccinations in areas they control” the Guardian writes, noting, “In 2007, Mullah Fazlullah, the leader of the Taliban in Swat, deterred people from having their children vaccinated,” and “[e]arlier this month, Hafiz Gul Bahadar, the leader of the Taliban in North Waziristan, made similar claims about polio vaccinations being used for spying and banned any further work until drone attacks end” (Boone, 6/26). “The ban in North Waziristan has forced U.N. and Pakistani vaccination teams to halt efforts to reach about 160,000 children in that expanse of rugged badlands, which serves as sanctuary for an array of Islamic militant groups,” according to the Los Angeles Times, which adds, “The U.S. has no plans to end its drone campaign, which it says has been highly effective in undermining the capabilities of Al Qaeda and its allied militant groups” (Rodriguez, 6/26).