Tribal jirga backs Taliban ban on polio drive in Pak's North Waziristan
Islamabad, July 19 (ANI): A tribal jirga has backed a Taliban ban on polio vaccinations, who have linked the lifting of the ban to the cessation of U.S. drone strikes in the region, consequently preventing children being vaccinated in North Waziristan as part of a nationwide campaign.
Officials had pinned their last hopes of vaccinating children in North Waziristan on talks with tribesmen, which were successively delayed until Wednesday, the last day of the nationwide campaign, reports The Express Tribune.
North Waziristan administrator Siraj Ahmed Khan said he had sought to convince the tribesmen to accept the vaccinations for the highly infectious disease.
Khan told the jirga that the campaign was in the interest of the tribal people, adding that funds for development works in North Waziristan could also be affected if the campaign ban was not lifted.
But the jirga refused to withdraw their support for the ban and linked the immunisation campaign to an end to drone strikes in the tribal areas.
"Polio vaccination will be banned until drone attacks are stopped," tribal elder Qadir Khan said.
Tribal elders told Khan that drone strikes were not only a concern for the Taliban, but also for the tribal people.
"Drones martyr so many children, while polio afflicts one or two out of hundreds of thousands," said tribal elder Maamoor Khan.
Religious scholar Maulana Gull Salim said a response from the Taliban is expected on Thursday, adding that the jirga would try to resolve the issue through negotiations.
Condemning the campaign as a cover for espionage, militants banned vaccinations in North and South Waziristan, risking the health of 240,000 children. (ANI)
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