PESHAWAR/ISLAMABAD: Two policemen guarding a polio vaccination team in Tank were shot dead by unidentified assailants, police said Tuesday, the latest deaths in an ongoing campaign to eradicate the disease.
Pakistan and neighbouring Afghanistan are the only countries where polio remains endemic, but vaccination teams have been targeted for years by militants in both nations. “Two gunmen hiding near a small water channel opened fire on the policemen from a very close range,” senior officer Waqar Ahmad Khan said.
“The gunmen spared the two-member polio vaccination team and fled on a motorbike.” The incident happened in Kot Azam, Tank district, close to tribal districts where the military has clashed with militants since 2003. Scores of polio workers and security officials guarding them have been killed since 2012 by militants who claim vaccination programmes are part of a Western plot to sterilise Muslims.
Another conspiracy theory holds that the vaccines contain pig fat and are therefore banned by Muslims.
Meanwhile, President Dr Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday strongly condemned the terrorist attack on a polio team in district Tank, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, in which two policemen embraced Shahadat.
Expressing deep grief and sorrow over the Shahadat of two policemen Pir Rehman and Nisar Khan, the president said the sacrifices of security personnel and health workers during the national polio drive would not go in vain.
The elements carrying out such abhorrent attacks were the enemies of the future of country’s children, he said while paying tributes to the sacrifices of law enforcement agencies.
The president expressed the resolve to completely eliminate polio in Pakistan with joint efforts, the President Secretariat Press Wing said in a press release.
Also, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif strongly condemned the attack on a polio team, saying the enemies of the health of nation’s young generation would be strongly dealt with. He expressed sympathies with the policemen who lost lives in the line of duty and said the nation paid tribute to the great sacrifices rendered by police.
PM Sharif said those involved in the attacks on the polio team wanted to make the children of the country suffer from disabilities due to the crippling disease. He vowed to eliminate the persons pursuing such agenda and nefarious designs against the young generation.
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