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April 24, 2019

Conspiracy against anti-polio campaign foiled: minister

National

April 24, 2019

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government Tuesday saw a motive behind the anti-polio vaccine hoax and said that proofs of involvement of some important political people have been found.

Minister for Information Shaukat Ali Yousafzai, who is also a spokesperson for the provincial government, while addressing a press conference at the Cabinet Room of the Civil Secretariat, praised the media for ignoring the polio vaccine reaction hoax and said it (media) foiled the conspiracy hatched by some quarters against the anti-polio drive.

The minister said they had found the proofs of involvement of some “political people” in fueling the hoax created by one Nazar Mohammad to scare away people from administering polio vaccines to their children on Monday.

However, he stopped short of sharing the names of political people and their parties whom he blamed for unleashing the propaganda against the anti-polio vaccine campaign. It was an attempt to sabotage the countrywide anti-polio vaccination drive, particularly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, he added.

The three-day anti-polio campaign was launched across the province during which polio workers visited schools and madrassas to administer the anti-polio vaccine drops to children under five.

However, right in the middle of the campaign about 40 children from a school in Mashokhel village were brought to a hospital with “some complaints” of the reaction of the anti-polio vaccine.

Later the news spread like wildfire and thousands of school children were brought to the hospitals in parts of Peshawar and Charsadda districts, most of them with no apparent complaints.

However, it seemed to be a conspiracy against the anti-polio campaign which was exposed when a video went viral late in the night on the social media featuring one Nazar Mohammad asking children to fake unconsciousness.

Shaukat Yousafzai said that the man (Nazar Muhammad) had been arrested and those involved in raising false propaganda and alarm would be apprehended and punished accordingly.

In his strong-worded warning, the minister said that keeping children away from anti-polio vaccination was nothing short of an act of terrorism and those responsible for hatching the conspiracy against the anti-polio drive would face the action.

“The spread of poliovirus is a national emergency and today we have to commit ourselves to eradicate it come what may,” he said and added, “We would defeat the menace of polio the way we defeated the spectre of terrorism.”

Referring to the alleged involvement of some “important political people”, he said the politicians should do their politics on political issues and avoid doing it on the nationalissues like polio which had already become a stigma for the entire nation.

“Today our traders and common people are not being allowed to go abroad after the reported spread of poliovirus in the country. It is paralyzing our children and we have to root it out,” Shaukat said, adding, “the entire family suffers when a child is struck by paralyzing virus.”

Flanked by secretary Health and secretary Information, the minister eulogised the anti-polio workers and technicians, saying they are carrying out jihad (holy war) and we should provide them protection and support.

Referring to the damage caused to the health facility by mobsters at Mashokhel village, he said that the people of the surrounding areas were bringing their patients to hospitals in other parts of the city as own facility was ransacked by the mobsters.

He praised the media for its role in the entire “drama” and said it foiled the conspiracy against a national issue, adding that it would keep doing the same on the issues of national importance in the future too.

The secretary Health admitted that it would take time to regain the confidence of the people regarding the anti-polio campaign after the damage caused to it by yesterday’s propaganda.

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