470 Parents jailed in Pakistan for refusing polio vaccine

More than 470 relatives were arrested in Pakistan on March 2, for refusing to vaccinate their children against polio, according to local officials.

“There is no more mercy; we decided to treat the refusal with an iron hand. Anyone who refuses the vaccine will be sent to prison,” said Deputy Commissioner of Peshawar, capital of the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, one of the most affected countries of the region by this disease which causes paralysis.

Detainees “will be released only after providing assurances [that children will be vaccinated] and presented two guarantors”, added another senior Peshawar.

Vaccine “un-Islamic” according to Taliban

Pakistan is the world’s polio outbreak, with 85% of cases registered in 2014, and the government has stepped up for several months its “war” against the infectious disease. The cases are mainly concentrated in the Northwest, shaken for seven years by the Taliban insurgency.

Vaccination campaigns were launched there, but doctors are facing the sling conservatives in areas with strong influence Taliban. Taliban organizations believe this vaccine indeed “un-Islamic” and say “dangerous” for health. Others argue that the vaccine contains pork or seeks to destroy the Muslim population. According to authorities, sixty-five workers employed in the fight against polio were killed last two years in targeted attacks.

Distrust of the polio vaccine has also increased tenfold in the wake of the Shakeel Afridi “case”. This doctor was convicted for participating in a fake vaccination campaign against hepatitis organized by the CIA in Abbottabad. It was actually a subterfuge to successfully confirm the presence of Osama bin Laden in the region.

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