ISLAMABAD - Islamic scholars committed themselves to the polio eradication efforts in Pakistan and recommended to form a National Islamic Advisory Group to make sure the involvement of religious leaders in eradication efforts. The step was recommended by the Muslim scholars at a consultation, which took place in March in Cairo.

The scholars made vows and recommendations in a declaration that was announced at the end of a two-day conference 'polio eradication in the light of Islam'.  The conference was participated by scholars from Pakistan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and World Health Organisation officials. The International Islamic University Islamabad (IIUI) and the Alazhar University Cairo had organised the event to draw strategies to effectively overcome current social and political challenges to polio eradication in Pakistan. The recommended advisory group would be headed by the IIUI President Ahamd Al Yusuf while other office-bearers and members will include Imtiaz Zaffer, Zia Ul Haq, Muhammad Ismail, Mufti Rafi Usmani, Maulana Sami ul Haque, Maulana Tahir Ashrifi, Maulana Hanif Tayab, Qari Muhammad Hanif Jalandhiri, Dr Atta-Ur-Rehaman, Dr Tariq Bhutta, Dr Tanveer Zubairi.

 The scholars slammed the usage of vaccination campaign by Shakil Afridi to track down late Al-Qaeda chief.  They said the act created misconceptions about the vaccination campaigns in Pakistan and many children could not be vaccinated against the disease due to the fake campaign. They said that he (Afridi) was a traitor and should be given exemplary punishment.

Maulana Tahir Ashrafi, Chairman, Pakistan Ulema Council, Haji Hanif Tayyab, Chairman of Rotary Ulema Committee and Dr Ata Ur Rehman from Inter-Faith Religious Council Balochistan read out the declaration for the media at a press conference Thursday.

The declaration termed the killings of the polio workers un-Islamic and demanded the government to financially support the affected families.  They also condemned the killings of innocent children and people in drone attacks.

 It said that restoration of peace in the country was a basic obligation of the government so that the immunisation campaigns could be run in conflict-hit areas, especially in North and South Waziristan agencies where no vaccination campaign could be conducted due to the ban on polio immunisation since June 2012.

The scholars to dispel the misconceptions about the polio vaccine declared that the vaccine is safe and does not contain any harmful substance and does not affect fertility.

They committed themselves to the efforts of making people aware about the importance of immunization and pledged to play their role to end the barriers that have been impeding the objective of a polio-free Islamic world by the end of 2014. They vowed that Ulema at union councils and districts levels would also be involved to reach out the masses.