Arifullah Khan was about to give another dose of polia that the bullet was fired in the nearby hills. Recalling the incident that took place five years ago in the Bajaur tribal region of Pakistan, near the Afghanistan border, he said- it happened suddenly. Several shots fired and it seemed that there was an explosion.
A bullet hit the thigh and fell on the ground. Ruhollah, his childhood friend and partner of the vaccination campaign, was lying on the ground in front of him with blood. Khan said- I could not move forward. I saw him lying in front of me, who took his last breath in front of me.
Vaccination in Pakistan can be a deadly task. Terrorists and cleric organizations claimed that the polio vaccine was a conspiracy by Western countries to make Muslims infertile or to exclude it from religion. Since 2012, around 100 health workers, vaccinators and security personnel engaged in polio vaccination have died.
Pakistan gained confidence on top of this when a fake vaccination program was run by the intelligence agency CIA to find Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaeda leader, due to which he was killed at the hands of special security forces.
Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria are the countries in the world where polio is yet to be eradicated. Rana Safdar, a doctor who coordinated polio vaccination campaigns, said 82 cases of polio have been reported this year only because the vaccination was stopped due to the epidemic.
Safdar further said – Bajaur area, where Khan was shot, is still one of the most dangerous areas. Khan has tried to convey that there is a deep distrust of people in this area. Many conservative tribal elders believe that because of the vaccine, the youth who have been given this vaccine among children, they disrespect them and are concerned about Islamic customs and values.
He said- Everybody is scared of Kovid-19 but he is looking suspiciously with regard to western things.
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