As one of the last three countries (including Afghanistan and Nigeria) still not polio free, the need for urgency in Pakistan’s fight against polio is dictated by the fact that it can very easily spread to other regions.

The last stand of a disease as devastating as polio is unfortunately, yet fittingly being supported by Islamic extremists, who through a campaign of terrorism and propaganda have threatened to derail the international polio effort. The Pakistani Taliban, in their continued pursuit of a global jihad, have consistently demonstrated incomprehensible brutality and a sub-human view of the world. There is no god or religion, now or ever, that they could claim to be the soldiers of, as they exploit the poor, uneducated and most vulnerable masses of society. The monumental lack of a national policy has exposed them to manipulation at the hands of these people. It is fitting to ask, Where is the government’s counter-narrative? Where is the vast polio awareness campaign that will present a counter ideology? Somehow, the propaganda must be directly opposed. The only way to do it, is through education.

In such a time of crisis, it is perhaps wise to look next door for some inspiration. Despite the hostilities so often debated, due credit must be given to India’s approach in tackling the issue. They used a holistic approach, employing ‘micro-plans’ under the umbrella of a cohesive national initiative and are now in their third year of being polio-free. Of course in extremism, Pakistan has a somewhat unique problem, but this is not a fight we can hide from. Whilst additional security for polio workers is essential, we need to work with local tribal and religious leaders on education programmes; to counter the widespread scientific and religious misinformation at the grass roots level. With the resources available to us, it is possible to present a rational counter-narrative that is covered under a coherent national policy. As one of the last remaining hotbeds of polio in the world, it is our responsibility to make its’ eradication a priority, not just for the future of our children, but to attenuate the risk we pose to our neighbours, and the rest of the world.