The first case of polio this year has been found in Balochistan. A 26-month-old infant was detected with the crippling virus in Chagai district. The boy was reportedly not administered polio drops during the routine immunisation campaign. It cannot be stressed enough that parents need to demand vaccines if they are to protect their children. With 22 polio cases reported in 2014 in the province, there is enough proof in the face of blatant ignorance that the vaccines are essential and anyone who refuses them, or intimidates polio workers is criminally negligent. We have to stop being the country where children are crippled, dying, or killed due to the absolutely ignorant and ideologically fascist attitude of its people. Cases in 2014 mainly surfaced in Balochistan’s Quetta zone but lately nearby districts such as Khuzdar and Chagai were also found affected as a result of the poor immunisation campaign in the province. The current polio campaign was suspended due to the security threats a few days ago.

Last year the poliovirus infected 295 children in Pakistan, a shocking 217% increase from 2013’s count of 93 cases. Majority of the cases were from FATA and KPK. We have little resources to dedicate to causes such as eradicating polio and the little that we have is spurned by ignorant adults and parents. The sad fact is that this relentless onslaught of one tragedy after another is preventable.

The continuing prevalence of polio is the inevitable outcome of Pakistan’s obsession with religion and hate of the outside/other. Just one maulana giving a pro-polio fatwa could help. If only our Ulema were busier in finding out how modern medicine can be useful for Islamic welfare, rather than busy discussing on television, who deserves to die for Islam and who deserves to live.

Little children deserve to live.