North Waziristan tribesmen, clerics endorse polio vaccination ban until drone strikes end

Pakistani tribesmen and clerics in North Waziristan have fallen in line behind Taliban leader Hafiz Gul Bahadar and are endorsing the ban on polio vaccinations for children. Last month, Bahadar had insisted that the vaccination campaign be stopped until the US ends the drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas (his stand against vaccinations was backed by Mullah Nazir, a top Taiban leader in South Waziristan). Now the tribal leaders in north Waziristan are echoing the Taiban party line. From Dawn:

“Polio vaccination will be banned until drone attacks are stopped,” tribal elder Qadir Khan told a gathering of more than 200 elders and Islamic scholars in Miranshah, the main town of North Waziristan.

“Drones martyr so many children, while polio afflicts one or two out of hundreds of thousands,” said tribal elder Maamoor Khan.

North Waziristan administrator Siraj Ahmed Khan said he had sought to convince the tribesmen to accept the vaccinations for the disease, which leaves children crippled for life.

“Polio is rampant in tribal areas and government desires to prevent its spread,” Khan told the meeting.

Support for Bahadar’s position from the tribal leaders and mullahs should come as no surprise. The Taliban have killed all of the tribal leaders who opposed them and coopted those who remained. North Waziristan remains in the firm grip of the Taliban, and the Pakistani government and military, despite years of promises to clear the tribal area of the Taliban and al Qaeda via “stealth offensives” and other such nonsense, will do nothing to resolve the problem.

This is why the unpopular drone strikes remain the only game in town for the US to keep al Qaeda at bay in Waziristan. But the drones do not deal with the problems of al Qaeda and allied groups operating beyond the North and South Waziristan ‘kill boxes’ where the drones are confined; these Islamist terror groups are pervasive throughout Pakistan. And the drones don’t deal with the wider issues of al Qaeda’s virulent ideology, state support for Islamist terror groups, and the terror groups’ ability to exploit ungoverned spaces (see Mali and Syria for the latest iterations).

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • Gerald says:

    Way to sacrifice your next generation to protect a bunch of Foreigners and Fanatics! The NGOs can use those resources elsewhere anyway!

  • david says:

    Are they holding themselves hostage?

  • My2Cents says:

    Typical “Look what you made me do!” The eternal cry of the sociopath and the wife beater.
    Ignore them. They have made their own bed, let their children lie in it.

  • bill h says:

    They are no threat to us in the spread of the disease since they do not interact with the rest of the world.
    We should just let them live and die in their own world of misery.
    What does “polio is rampant” mean? how many cases per 100000 people?

  • mike merlo says:

    good news

  • Mr. Wolf says:

    This is the set-up for the logic that whatever we do, it will kill them. Nothing short of the ultimate death is all the Taliban can talk about. If it isn’t a drone strike, it will be the Polio. If there is an outbreak of the disease, it will be said that “we” planted it in the fields and hills when we left. A well thought out visual campaign would help with this, but so too would actually teaching a local or two about health and the human body. Maybe we should just drop medical textbooks off instead of the vaccines.

  • Winger says:

    Worse: they’re holding their own kids hostage. They must be running low on polio-crippled street beggars.

  • Vyom says:

    Christopher Hitchens wrote that he learned in 2005 that in Northern Nigeria—a country which at that time was considered provisionally polio free—an Islamic Fatwah was issued declaring that the polio vaccine was a conspiracy by the United States and the United Nations against the Muslim faith, saying that the drops were designed to sterilize the true believers. Subsequently, polio reappeared in Nigeria and spread from there to several other countries.


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