The Polio Apocalypse of Pakistan

Pakistan is one of the few places in the world where Polio virus is still active. This seemingly inconsequential happening could snowball in a complete ban on international travel from Pakistan.

Why is polio active in Pakistan when it has been eradicated in most of the world? This question is enough to expose our two-timing policies in public health sector. The misguided and downright ignorant sections of Pakistani society prefer their local mullah over everyone else.

The maddening thing about polio eradication in Pakistan is that it should not a problem. After all, the virus is restricted to just three areas of the country; the largest city Karachi, several remote regions of FATA and Baluchistan. It is not an epidemic. Instead, Pakistan has been blackballed because of a few isolated cases in the remote regions of the country.

The first and the most important shortcoming is the criminal negligence in taking the issue seriously. The medical establishment (if there is such a thing in Pakistan!) is largely a collection of bureaucrats with very little training or interest in medical science. Indeed, the health ministry in both provinces and center is considered an average assignment with few takers. This attitude has trickled down to the lowest levels with disastrous results for the people of Pakistan.

Eradication of polio is an attractive opportunity to milk the foreign donors and WHO for money and tour invitations. It is also an opportunity to make some really good money on commissions and kickbacks. As a result, very few people have actually given a serious though on how to combat the issue.

The second and even more serious dimension of the issue is the religious angle. Some years back, Taliban clerics outlawed polio vaccination because it is unislamic. This decree carried the full force of the Taliban influence. With the might of a terrorist organization backing it, the propaganda wing of TTP spread the word across KPK. The end result was a sharp rise in polio cases in the region.

The coming Apocalypse
Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria are the only places in the world where the polio virus is loose in the population. How can in result in an apocalypse for Pakistan?

If the current state of affairs persists, the international community could ban air travel for everyone within the geographic borders of the country. In the extreme cases, every passenger from Pakistan could become a possible vector of the disease. We could have the distinction of starting the next polio epidemic on a global level.

While this might seem far fetched, it is not that difficult. There are international quarantine laws that a country could evoke both at the time o granting the visa and at its international borders. So even if you have multiple entry visa for the US or EU, the immigration officer could still refuse you entry on the basis of an obscures set of international healthcare and public health laws.

So remember this!

As far as Pakistan is concerned, There is an apocalypse coming and it will be wrought by a virus.

Zafar Iqbal

Zafar Iqbal

Zafar Iqbal is Contributing Editor of Awaz e Pakistan. He strongly believes in the power of words and words represent ideas that cannot be suppressed.
Zafar Iqbal



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