ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Thursday said the fake vaccination campaign conducted by United States’ Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) ahead of the secret raid on Osama bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound in 2011 was one of the major reasons behind the rising number of polio cases in the country.
“Dr Shakil Afridi’s fake campaign has created doubts about vaccination drives among people,” Foreign Office Spokesperson Tasnim Aslam told reporters at her weekly news briefing on Thursday. “A fake campaign of vaccination was conducted in Pakistan in which the UN agencies were also used.”
Her remarks came in response to the recent international travel restrictions imposed on Pakistan by the World Health Organization (WHO) for the country’s failure to completely eradicate the polio virus.
“These are not restrictions. These are recommendations. They are called IHR regulations. This issue has been under discussion between Pakistan and WHO since 2012,” Tasnim insisted responding to the measure announced by the public health arm of the United Nations.
Pakistan is only one of three countries where the polio virus remains endemic. According to the WHO, 59 cases of polio have been reported so far in the country this year alone.
Majority of these cases have been found in the tribal areas, where the military is fighting militancy.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 9th, 2014.