ISLAMABAD - The National Assembly, on the first private-member day of the 11th session, was informed that timeline had not so far been decided to ban travelling of Pakistanis abroad, adding the government had taken concrete steps to control the crippling disease.
Around 13,000 passengers, daily going abroad from the five airports of the country, will not be affected from the recommendations the WHO recently conveyed to put travel ban on Pakistanis.
“Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is taking keen interest in addressing the issue and also held a meeting with the WHO head,” said Minister of State for Health Services, Regulation and Coordination Sara Fazal Tarar, while responding to the call-attention notice on the increasing cases of polio in the country. The minister said a special campaign against the disease will be launched throughout the country next month in which Imam-e-Kaaba will also participate.
“The WHO recommendations are also for two other countries, including Cameron and Syria. The PML-N government is taking a serious notice to deal with this disease,” she added.
About the concerns raised by MNA Shaista Pervaiz for Pakistani travellers, the minister said no date had so far been decided to put a ban on Pakistanis to travel abroad. “Let us see when it is implemented,” she said, adding control on polio was prime responsibility of the provinces.
“The ban on Pakistani travellers has not been implemented,” she said, adding the government had convened a meeting of all the provincial health ministers and representatives of health departments today (Wednesday) to devise a strategy to address the issue.
JUI-F lawmaker Aasia Nasir feared anti-polio vaccine might not be available in the country in 2015 and that most of polio cases had been reported from Balochistan and other far-flung areas of the country.
Responding to the concerns raised by the opposition lawmaker, Sara Fazal Tarar said polio cases were mainly from Karachi, Peshawar and North Waziristan. “Such cases in North Waziristan are in a large number as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has banned polio vaccination in the area,” she said. The ban on polio vaccination was reaction of Dr Shakeel Afridi’s issue in this area, she added.
Later, talking to newsmen outside the Parliament, Sara Tarar, while calling the WHO move a little too harsh for Pakistan, vowed to file an appeal against WHO restrictions.
The minister accused the WHO of playing into the Taliban’s hands, saying the health body’s recommendations had isolated Pakistan and would make life harder for ordinary Pakistanis.
“By recommending travel restrictions, the WHO has strengthened the forces that actually banned polio drops,” she said.
To a question, she said the certificate for people willing to go aboard would be prepared with the consultation of provinces. “Passengers travelling abroad now should not worry about it,” she said.
She said accessibility was the major issue to immunisation and control of polio and it is prime responsibility of the provincial governments to address this issue.
ZARDARI URGES WHO TO
REVIEW TRAVEL BAN
Co-Chairman Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and former President Asif Ali Zardari on Tuesday called upon the World Health Organization (WHO) to review its decision about putting ban on Pakistani travelers.
Expressing grave concern over the travel restrictions imposed on Pakistan by the WHO, Zardari said Polio knows no boundaries and fighting polio is a global responsibility that must be shared by the international community.
“The imposition of travel ban will only increase Pakistan’s isolation and not advance the global fight against polio,” the former President said in a statement.
He also called upon the authorities concerned in the federal and provincial governments to step up efforts to contain the spread of polio virus and deal with an iron hand the militants and bigots opposing polio vaccination.
“The travel ban resulting in increasing our isolation should serve to remind everyone that the policy of appeasing militants will cost the country dearly”, he said.
“The militants opposing polio vaccination want to incapacitate the future generations and we owe it to our children to root out the extremists, the zealots and the bigoted militants before it is too late,” he added.
Asif Ali Zardari also called upon the party workers and the civil society to protect the polio workers from any harm by the militants.
He said that the PPP is committed to end this crippling disease from the country and save the children.