How quickly we have forgotten the trouble polio has caused us. The travel restrictions that were imposed a result of failing to cut down on the high incidence of polio caused outrage and concern. We were given a reminder that the rest of the world has yet another reason to distrust people from Pakistan. We were vessels for the spread of a disease that has been all but eradicated in almost all the countries of the world, barring three. And yet since then, things have only taken a turn for the worse. The International Monitoring Board (IMB) for polio has scheduled a review for September 30, to gauge the progress, or lack thereof, of Pakistan’s efforts to rid itself of the disease. The WHO has set a date of its own in November, to visit Pakistan and decide the next course of action.

For those who are not aware, IMB is the organisation that recommended imposing travel restrictions on Pakistanis due to our failure to eradicate polio in November 2012, which were implemented in May this year. And before we take this personally, or add it to the list of perceived insults Pakistan has had to suffer, the first step in the fight against any viral disease is containment. The IMB’s report on Pakistan stated that, not only had Pakistan failed to eradicate polio, it had also transported it to polio-free areas such as Iraq, Syria and Gaza. Can one really blame them then, for deciding that Pakistan needed extra screening? The Punjab government’s claim of success against polio was short-lived for this very reason, because those that carried the disease were given the leeway to roam the country freely.

The number of polio cases since the last restrictions have only increased. Even if by some miracle, there are no more cases of polio for the rest of the year, over 140 that have already surfaced will be more than enough to condemn us. The anti-polio campaign that began in Balochistan on Monday, witnessed its first casualty on the same day, as a Levies man was killed while defending a polio team in Pishin. The beginning of the Bajaur campaign also saw it’s first killing the day it began. KPK is now planning another anti-polio drive in the next month, to get to as many children during the ’off season’. The Federal government has been visibly disinterested in the anti-polio campaigns. Unless that mind-set changes, the children of Pakistan are doomed to carry a disease that is extinct almost everywhere else.