Other three polio volunteers killed in Afghanistan
Ferocity as a winning weapon: strategists and politicians can challenge this idea, but the cold-blooded murder of three women – a nurse and two volunteers engaged in the fight against polio – confirms that even in Afghanistan this theory has found listeners. And it does not seem a coincidence that the ambushes of health workers took place in Jalalabad, in the province of Nangarhar, where the presence of Isis-Khorasan, the local branch of the organization that had built the Caliphate, is rooted.
The killing prompted the Afghan government to halt an essential vaccination campaign, given that Afghanistan still has active outbreaks of the disease, and last year there were 56 new cases of infected people. The offensive even aroused a distance from the Taliban, which denied any involvement. But the logic of these attacks is not clear either.
The fundamental theorist of ISIS Abu Bakr al Naji argued that “the management of ferocity” was a useful tool for the creation of an Islamic state, through attacks that provoke a spiral of repression, because of a polarization of positions. It is not certain that such a choice applies to the Afghan context, especially if the very young to be vaccinated are the target.
The polio immunization drive targets more than 40 million children under the age of five across 156 Pakistani districts, said Faisal Sultan, special assistant to the Pakistani prime minister on national health services. Sultan explained the authority has employed some 285,000 frontline workers, respecting coronavirus safety guidelines, to administer polio drops to the targeted community.
Anti-polio approaches have also suffered setbacks in Pakistan in recent years due to attacks on vaccinators and police staff guarding them, leading to an increase in new contagions. The violence has killed scores of polio and medical workers.Islamist fighters see the polio vaccine as an effort to gather intelligence on their activities while radical religious groups in conservative rural parts of majority-Muslim Pakistan refuse the immunization as a Western-led conspiracy to sterilize kids.
Pakistani officials insist attacks on polio teams have particularly increased since 2011 when the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency organized a fake vaccination campaign with the help of a local doctor, enabling U.S. forces to locate and kill fugitive al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden wide inside Pakistan.
The South Asia nation’s second polio drive of 2021 comes amid a third wave of coronavirus infections, with Pakistani officials reporting more than 4,000 new cases and 100 deaths from the COVID-19 pandemic in the last 24 hours.Hours after Monday’s polio vaccination drive began, authorities imposed partial lockdowns in “high-risk” Pakistani districts, including the capital, Islamabad, citing a “very dangerous” spike in new coronavirus cases.Since the coronavirus outbreak in the country 13 months ago, the government has recorded nearly 14,400 deaths from COVID-19 and more than 663,000 infections.
Pakistani authorities indicated the rate of people testing positive for COVID-19 had alarmingly risen to nearly 12% from a low of about 3% in recent weeks, advising the actual number of infections is likely much higher than the published cases. Sultan announced the current wave of coronavirus infections has the potential to be worse than the first one in the summer of 2020, when Pakistan had to impose a national lockdown to contain the infection.