Pakistan militants kill 5 women from U.N.-backed polio vaccination program


Gunmen shot dead five women working on U.N.-backed polio vaccination efforts in two different Pakistani cities on Tuesday, officials said, a major setback for a campaign that international health officials consider vital to contain the crippling disease but which Taliban insurgents say is a cover for espionage.

Pakistan is one of only three countries where polio is endemic. Militants however accuse health workers of acting as spies for the U.S. and claim the vaccine makes sterile. Taliban children commanders in the troubled northwest tribal region have also said vaccinations can’t go forward until the U.S. stops drone strikes in the country.

Insurgent opposition to the campaign grew last year after it was revealed that a Pakistani doctor ran a fake vaccination program to try and help the CIA track down al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, who was hiding in the town of Abbottabad in the country’s northwest.

The Taliban have targeted previous anti-polio campaigns, but this has been a particularly deadly week. The government is in the middle of a three-day vaccination drive targeting high risk areas of the country as part of an effort to immunize millions of children under the age of five.

The women who were killed Tuesday — three of whom were teenagers — were all shot in the head at close range. Four of them were gunned down in the southern port city of Karachi, and the fifth in a village outside the northwest city of Peshawar. Two men who were working alongside the women were also critically wounded in Karachi.

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  1. >Taliban children commanders in the troubled northwest tribal region have also said vaccinations can’t go forward until the U.S. stops drone strikes in the country.

    My dog! The stupidity!

  2. They have problems with people trying to help with the polio problems because it’s a cover for spying.  Yet they have no problem with accepting the millions of dollars in aid from the US and other countries.

    This benighted nation should have been kicked out of the UN and the British commonwealth of Nations long ago.

  3. This is tragic. A bunch of folks trying to save lives in a medically sound,reasonable way get shot for their troubles. As well as everything else ,their religion obviously fosters paranoia.

  4. Whether this spying accusation is true or not people were benefiting from vaccines to this terrible disease and I seriously doubt that the spying claim would have stopped them regardless.  They’re scumbags, murdering scumbags who are not fit to live on the same planet as us.  I would fully support, regardless of how extreme it is, that we simply evacuate every women from these shit holes and issue an ultimatum to the men – change or live without the fairer sex.  It can be done.  It’s scary that these ‘men’ can draw such a dark reaction from me as I’m a person who simply wants everyone to be happy. 

  5. They’d probably make more substantial long-term progress is they really did send in spies to secretly sterilise along with a vaccination program. The drone system would have to be one of the most expensive post-natal abortion technologies ever developed. Contraception is much more economically efficient.

    Another approach is to open more US-based fast-food restaurants and supply more highly processed foods to Pakistani markets. That should cause a dramatic reduction in fertility, as has occurred everywhere else it’s been tried.

  6. Sigh!

    More barbarism from that part of the world and politically initiated barbarism is still barbarism. 

  7. Yet another piece of nauseating murder from the Islamist psychopaths.
    And still Islamists demand respect and accuse critics of “Islamophobia ”
    There’s nothing illogical about arriving at the conclusion that Islamic dogma is evil!

  8. This accusation that the vaccinators are spies has a ring of truth about it.

    I must admit that I’ve always thought the best way to gain intelligence on armed insurgents is to suck the required information out of the veins of children, and specifically those under 5 years old. 

  9. I’m wholeheartedly with you on that plan, adding perhaps that following its completion, the whole miserable place is somehow cordoned off forever, allowing those inside to rot in their own dogmatic filth since, as you rightly say, “murdering scumbags are not fit to live on the same planet as us”.

  10. HenMie,
    While I can not deny, having similar reactionary feelings. It must be remembered that many in the area do not have choices to leave and may be to old, to young, to female to do anything to leave or help.

    I am certain that employing a local Tribal/Taliban/Militant representative to escort each worker and make sure that the single use syringes are disposed of correctly and no passing of intelligence information or inflammatory discussion is taking place, would actually allow the immunisation process to proceed. A days pay of $5 to stand around while 100 immunisations are given is a cheap price to pay to actually wipe out a disease like this. Maybe a total pay/bribe bill of 5-10 million is required to finish the disease off. Cheap. Pay the little bit, secure the workers, cure the disease.

    Sometimes accommodating silliness is necessary to get a good result. I remember the construction of a road near where I lived in 2005 that was to see a dangerous road be much improved. The widening would though have taken out a tree that was and had been used as a memorial point for fatalities over the past 20 years. It all got very raucous until it was pointed out that due to the rebuild and length of the road, kinking the road slightly, still within the road reserve would allow the tree to survive, for only about $2000 in extra cost. A civil engineer also pointed out that the slight bend in an otherwise straight 3km stretch would also be good for tired drivers. So the small change was made, a bureaucrat was embarrassed, some superstition was honoured and the road built without major delays and court costs. The tree was later killed by a bushfire in 2010 and had been effectively ignored as the road had shifted ten meters and it was no longer convenient as a memorial point. It is sometimes amazing how soon a superstition vanishes once it becomes inconvenient. 

  11. Majority of people living in Pakistan do not agree with Talibans on this and many other issues. As an example, those five girls who sacrificed their lives for this campaign were Pakistanis. We should recognize their bravery and should not paint everyone with the same brush.

  12. I completely agree with you that these women were brave, far braver than the cowards who did the act but the sacrifice should not have been necessary for something as noble and selfless as aiding a polio vaccination.  I sorry if my previous post seemed a little much for people, it just pisses me off that good people are getting murdered by scum.  As for the Pakistanis, their government effectively handed the Swat Valley over to these butchers so what kind of message does that send to the people.  I just wish there was a way we could protect the good men, women and children from these people with no respect for life. 

  13. They can be against the Taliban all they want, the Taliban is not the problem. A 2010 poll by Pew Research Center showed that 76% in Pakistan agree with the death penalty for leaving Islam. Who knows how many would just throw you in jail? Regardless, that makes them shit and an enemy of freedom and reason. I have no place for almost all of them. I’m just more committed in voicing my disrespect for Islam. The kids are alright.

  14. From Wikipdia: “Pakistan still has one of the highest illiteracy rates in the world and the second largest out of school population (5.1 million children) after Nigeria”. With such high illiteracy rate, result of any poll conducted in Pakistan should not be a surprise. Moreover, there are still people who courageously voice there opinion against blasphemy law despite threats. One example was ex-governor of Punjab province who was killed by his bodyguard. There were numerous other examples. Also Pakistani teenage girl Malal Yousafzai took a bullet for girl’s education cause and she was supported by large majority in her native land. Springbox mentioned Swat going into hands of Taliban but forgot to mention that Swat was taken back from Taliban by Pakistani Military taking considerable casualities during military operation. (By the way, Talibans are heavily funded by donors from Saudi Arabia and middle east and unless this life line is cut, there is no immediae solution to this menace). There are also groups in Pakistan trying to promote secular humanism. One example I can cite is Rationalist Society of Pakistan.

  15.  I don’t doubt that there aren’t small groups of people who are for secularism and against killing people for their ideas, that’s why I said almost all of them. You don’t have to be literate to appreciate the value of being alive.

    Hell, I would group the death penalty advocates in the US and even Canada as enemies as well. I work and live amongst them, we get along fine, but I have no respect for them and I tell them what I think of their ideas. They can’t seem to appreciate the value of life and accept the fact that innocent people will die and have died under death penalty law. 300 is the last count of death row inmates, I’ve read about, who were released after DNA proved their innocence. How many died before DNA?

    The very fact that there is a chance 1 innocent person will die makes it an unacceptable law. There is no acceptable murderer ratio. But I doubt those who vote for the death penalty would be willing to kill themselves when they learn they have caused the death of an innocent person. Under their own law they would deserve it. Everyone who voted for it would be a murderer.

    It’s one thing to have your life taken by an individual who commits murder, it’s a travesty and a disgusting farce when the killer is the state at the request of the people. When that murder is the result of a vote and legislation it makes them all guilty. Premeditated beyond belief. There was a poll in Canada that suggested 63% of Canadians polled were for the death penalty. In my mind, that makes 63% of us aspiring murderers because we know innocent people will be killed.

    Now, extend death for ideas and you have a barbaric, sick and dangerous society. The kids are alright but not for long. That’s why culture sucks and is the worse argument for any behaviour. If you say it’s our culture, you’re saying you have no good reason. Life is the meaning of life, if it has to have one.

    As the revolution in Egypt was underway, I watched them struggle to replace the wrong thing. When your leader is belief it doesn’t matter what government you have. Their culture and their religion are their worst problem. Until they revolt against those pitiful creatures who cares who is in charge.

  16. The bravery of these young women is astonishing, since they were quite aware of the risks they were taking. Likewise, the Pakistani people opposed to the blasphemy laws and the Islamic opposition show similar courage in a country where voicing such opinions can cost your life.

    As long as there are these brave Pakistanis working towards bringing their sad country out of the middle ages, I wish the gun happy Americans would keep their mouths shut about invasions, evacuations and economic sanctions. Especially since it’s these brave young women who are now paying the price for the fake vaccination program created to capture bin Laden. I hope the CIA is happy now, having pulled the rug from under all these medical programs.

    Yes, there are also brave Americans and other foreigners working in these troubled areas. Doctors, engineers, educators. But any time the miserable US military has been employed, the disaster has become worse. Having blown up a few buildings, killed a few people and replaced a leader with another tyrant or a puppet, the US military presence always leaves these countries in shambles and eases the way for civil war and terror. Don’t kid yourself, there is no chance a military solution will help these people in Pakistan, as it didn’t in Afganistan or Irak. Apart from destroying the whole country and the innocent at the same time, the western military strength is incapable of bringing down the Taliban. All it ends up doing is feeding the fire.

    I share the rage many of us feel about such killings. And I know these certain commenters here aren’t necessarily promoting another US military invasion. But we simply must get rid of this whole mindset of trying to violently force people to do what we want them to do, even at the moment of justifiable anger. It simply does not work.

    The only way is education, social progress and peaceful cooperation. But it takes time and patience. And peaceful bravery, not military bravado.

  17.  It will come at the same time as the uprising of the American people against a Pentagon and foreign policy that they do not support. I.e. not in the near future and for the same reason.

  18. I understand the anger against the Taliban but suggesting that Pakistan should become a pariah state with no outside help or involvement , are you nuts? Sorry, but that has to be the stupidest thing I have ever read on this forum.

    This would play directly into the Taliban’s hands. They would have the potential to create a rogue state along the lines of the old Afghanistan but with nuclear weapons. The Taliban’s strategy is as ever to generate western outrage and get the kind of reactions I am seeing on this board.
    What Pakistan needs is as much support as the UN can give it to stop the Taliban making a bad situation worse.
    I have met and worked with many Pakistani children and families here in the UK  Most are hard working, decent people who just want the same things for their families as the rest of us, a nice quality of life and freedom from persecution. Their families in Pakistan do not deserve the Taliban, nor do they deserve to be left  in these horrendous circumstances whilst the West washes its hands of the problem.
    Ultimately, with the vaccination programme now suspended it is the children who will contract Polio in their thousands who will be the real victims of this outrage.

  19. Don….really….we can’t do that. If we kick them out of the UN etc. we loose track of their nuclear arsenal. Keeping contact with their government really is the prudent thing to do.

  20. Well, I don’t mind being called stupid. I’ve been around long enough to have been called worse. Three more killed today. What did the Pakistan government do to prevent this? Send troops (they have plenty) to protect these brave people? Mind you, you are just as likely to be murdered by those sent to protect you, I’m sure you will remember this. What has the Pakistani government done to further equality, human rights, women’s rights? What are they doing to confront the Taliban in these areas? What is their reaction to government ministers offering money for the murder of foreign nationals? What is their policy on hiding terrorists?

    When I was in London, I lived and worked among Pakistani people, and yes, I met some good friends. Others though were British when it suited and Pakistani when it didn’t.

    Ultimately the Pakistani government has the power and (if they want) the allies to fight the Taliban. All they lack is the will.

  21. Since nobody else seemed to notice, I have to add this observation:

    … a Pakistani doctor ran a fake vaccination program to try and help the CIA track down Osama bin Laden

    Sadly, the Taliban response – attacking vaccination programs – was hardly unexpected.  The children who don’t get protected as a result will be the ones to pay the price.   Was this considered as part of the price for nailing OBL?   Was it considered a fair price?  good value?  “worth it”, to paraphrase Madeleine Albright?

    The same sort of miserable result follows whenever anyone runs a military operation in the guise of humanitarian aid – smuggle guns in ambulances, and sure as night follows day ambulances will become targets of the enemy that was duped.The price these children will pay isn’t even going to be counted as “collateral damage”.

    And no,  I’m not trying to lessen the culpability of the Taliban, despicable scum that they are.   Just saying there are others closer to home who knew this would happen and went ahead anyway. Like those who let powerful weaponry fall into the hands of lunatics, they aren’t in any way responsible. Yeah, right.

  22. Do you know what, ozkrenske?  I’m not advocating for half of the Pakistani population to be ferried away, not really.  I am just sick to the back teeth hearing of this Islamic savagery in the 21st century, and normal words and responses are simply inadequate so I improvise and daydream.  I daydream of a better, more ideal a world where that kind of savagery no longer exists, where normal people can go about their business undisturbed, and certainly are not killed for something good they are doing in their own community, something beneficial for the children, for the future of that very community.  You may be right when you say that ‘a superstition vanishes once it becomes inconvenient’.  I must be  too impatient, I guess, I wish it were ‘inconvenient’ now.

  23. ReasonSpeaks,
     I do recognize the courage of the five girls, that’s why I’m so angry that it mattered not a jot to the killers that they were brave or that they were Pakistani or that they were doing good, possibly even to the children of the killers themselves.  To me it is mind boggling that killings such as these (and today there are two more deaths) are allowed to happen, and will keep happening, unless the world speaks out and condemns them.  We must speak out in the strongest terms so that these murderers see that the whole world is against them and considers them the worst barbarians possible, fit only for isolation rather than support which, I fear, they expect.  I am not advocating any political or military action, I’m only concerned on a humanitarian level, and I think, shaming them openly, with the strongest possible attitudes, is the only action that we as individuals can take.
     I am very aware that other courageous people such as Governor Taseer  or Malala, among others, have openly spoken out in that society but you know what happened to them.  It is no use being brave in that society if you get rewarded for your courage with words of praise by people like us after you get shot or are murdered, something else must happen so that you don’t get shot in the first place, but what?  For myself, I will continue to oppose these atrocities whenever I can, no matter whether they use excuses such as fake previous vaccinations or something else.  It matters not what reasons they use for their despicable actions, I insist that there can be no excuses, and condemnation should be worldwide.


  24. Actually, now that there has been a repeat and 3 more workers have been killed because of the “conspiracy to sterilize the Islamic children” (yes that’s what was said in the interview I heard), I find it emotionally hard to resist abandonment ideas. The UN has now stopped the program to try to figure out how to educate the people and bring the tribes around.

    Apparently the Pakistan security can not guard the workers and have anyone show to be immunized.

    It is truly sad, but my own selfishness to see a disease killed off makes me want this to continue.

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