Polio threat

Polio threat

Being a polio health worker in Pakistan is dangerous. Health workers serving an anti-polio drive were killed and injured by extremists this week in Sindh and Khyber-Pukhtunkhwa. An editorial in The Express Tribune on December 19 commented: "Thanks to the murderous actions of extremists, a disease that had been almost completely eradicated is now coming back with a vengeance and hundreds of thousands of children could be at risk... The deaths in Karachi only serve to prove that those involved in efforts to eradicate polio are no less than soldiers in the frontline of a battlefield... The solution, as always, is to eliminate the Taliban so that their narrative, too, is destroyed... If we do not get serious about the militancy threat, international organisations might abandon Pakistan and the polio endemic will only get worse."

The News reported on December 20: "Thirteen key political parties dotting the political spectrum of Pakistan Wednesday signed a joint declaration in which they have pledged to incorporate polio eradication in their... manifestos for the upcoming general elections, and to allocate financial and human resources for effective implementation of all current and future polio eradication strategies. Moreover, they have urged the government to make foolproof arrangements for the security of polio workers. Consensus to this effect emerged at an APC on 'Polio: a National Emergency,' convened by PILDAT with support from Unicef." Former information minister and Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) leader, Mushahid Hussain Syed proposed polio be declared "a threat to national security in Pakistan".

Sleeping over Kashmir

SEVEN Kashmiri separatist leaders went on a week-long visit to Pakistan to "explore" and "remind" Pakistan about Kashmir. The All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, was in Pakistani papers throughout the week. Mirwaiz rued that the dialogue process between India and Pakistan on Kashmir "would not bear fruit without a meaningful engagement of people of Kashmir." Dawn said in its December 21 editorial: "Looking at it from the Kashmiri point of view, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq's concerns can be understood... [He] couldn't help saying that, after 2008, Pakistan was not playing the role expected of it... Abdul Ghani Bhat... felt that, instead of prioritising other bilateral matters, the Kashmir issue should be resolved first... Islamabad believes that attempts to resolve the Sir Creek and Siachen disputes or to liberalise trade creates the kind of conducive atmosphere that is needed for comprehensive talks on Kashmir. It is a pragmatic policy aimed at improving relations and does not relegate Kashmir to the back burner."

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