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President says Government aware of challenges to anti-polio campaigns especially in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Federally Administered Tribal Areas

Islamabad, December 31, 2012 (PPI-OT): Reiterating the commitment of the Government to undertake every possible effort for complete elimination of Polio from the country, President Asif Ali Zardari today said that the Government was aware of the challenges to anti-polio campaigns especially in some areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA and was employing locally appropriate solutions in accordance with local traditions and norms.

He said that those who were opposing the anti-Polio campaigns on ideological basis were in fact misleading the people. The President said that the Government was determined not to permit militants to deprive our children of basic health care.

This he said during a specially convened meeting here at Bilawal House to review the progress made so far in fighting the menace of Polio from the country.

Those who were present during the meeting included among others His Excellency Sheikh Abdul Qadir Al-Shaibi, Mutawalli-e-Ka’bah, Ms, Bakhtawar Bhutto Zadari, Ms. Aseefa Bhutto Zardari, Pakistan’s Ambassador for Polio eradication, Governor Sindh Dr. Ishrat-ul-Ibad Khan, Chief Minister Sindh Syed Qaim Ali Shah, provincial ministers, Ms. Shahnaz Wazir Ali, SAPM /PM’s Focal Person on Polio Eradication, Chairperson President’s Polio Oversight Committee Dr. Azra Fazal Pechuho, Chief Secretaries of the provinces and other senior officials.

Spokesperson to the President Senator Farhatullah Babar said that the President thanked the international community for assisting the country in the cause of Polio eradication. Acknowledging valuable contributions of the Gates Foundation especially, the President remarked that international cooperation was critical to the success of anti-polio campaign. He said that the global fight against polio will not be won until we eradicate Polio from all countries, including Pakistan.

The President said that he feels a special responsibility towards eradicating Polio as this campaign was first launched in 1994 by the government of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. He said that Shaheed BB was the first Prime Minister to administer polio drops to her child Aseefa Bhutto Zardari who is now Pakistan’s Ambassador for Polio Eradication and was carrying forward the mission of her great mother.

The President said that Pakistan may have come a long way from mid nineties but it was not a completely polio free. He said that we must make Pakistan completely polio free. We will do it, he resolved.

Ms. Shahnaz Wazir Ali briefed the meeting about latest situation vis-à-vis Polio cases in the country and various measures taken by the Government to expand outreach to the children especially those of far flung areas, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, FATA and other remote parts of the country.

The Chief Secretaries of the provinces also gave a briefing on Polio situation in their respective provinces.

Ambassador for Polio eradication Ms. Aseefa Bhutto Zardari in her remarks said that Polio eradication from the country was one of the causes for which her mother Shaheed Benazir Bhutto fought and stood for. ‘My mother fought for a peaceful, progressive and prosperous Pakistan.’

She said that by assassinating her mother, the militants thought they could stop the cause that she fought and stood for. She said that we are determined to prove them wrong. We will continue to fight in her name and for many others who lost their lives for Pakistan.

While strongly condemning the attack on Polio teams in some parts of the country, Ms. Aseefa said that we must not allow a few to dictate our action. This is our Pakistan, she said and added that every Pakistani child has a right to basic health care.

It is our responsibility to provide them with the services required to keep them safe and healthy. Urging all to support the cause regardless of party or any other affiliation, she said that she had met with the frontline workers in Gadap and Baldia .

‘They have told me of the risk they take and the criticism they face and the threats they encounter. Yet they are not deterred.’ She said that the attack on Polio workers was reprehensible. ‘I condemn it in the strongest terms.’ She said that ‘they were victimized for protecting the lives of our children. We will not let their sacrifices go in vain.’ ‘I promise you these attacks on polio workers have only strengthened our determination’, she continued.

Ms. Aseefa said that Polio eradication was a national movement and all stakeholders including civil society, media, religious leaders were contributing in the campaigns. She urged everyone to assist the Polio eradication campaigns regardless of Party or any other affiliations saying that every Pakistani child has a right to basic health care. It is our responsibility to provide them with the services required to keep them safe and healthy.

In her remarks Aseefa said that Polio eradication was not just about week or a day-long campaigns. She said that we must ensure that every single child is immunized against polio. This can only be possible if routine immunizations are strengthened.

She thanked the international partners, stakeholders and all involved in the anti-polio campaign. Thanking Mutawaali-e-Kaaba for his presence she said that I especially thank the people of Saudi Arabia for standing by us in achieving our goal of a Polio free Muslim world.

She urged the Chief Minister for his continued support and to keep a close eye on campaigns to the polio control rooms put in place.

She said that she was motivated now more than ever and Insha Allah with continued support of Government and citizens of FATA, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh Punjab, Balochistan and Gilgit Baltistan we will eliminate this crippling disease from our home land.

Later, President Asif Ali Zardari, Mutawalli-e-Ka’bah Sheikh Abdul Qadir Al-Shaibi and Ms. Aseefa Bhutto Zardari also administered Polio drops to various children. H.E. Sheikh Abdul Qadir Al-Shaibi, Mutawalli-e-Ka’bah, and the participants also offered dua for the success of the Polio campaign.

Ms. Aseefa also had a separate meeting to review in detail the Polio situation in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA.

For more information, contact:
Haji Ahmed Malik
Principal Information Officer
Press Information Department (PID)
Tel: +9251 925 2323 and +9251 925 2324
Fax: +9251 925 2325 and +9251 925 2326
Email: piopid@gmail.com

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