ISLAMABAD - President Mamnoon Hussain has called for engaging Imams of mosques and religious clerics for dispelling misconceptions regarding polio programme in Fata.

He was talking to a delegation of international partners for polio eradication Tuesday. A delegation of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation including President Christopher Elias, Director Communications Michelle Fishman and Special Envoy of Pakistan for the programme Waqr Ajmal is on visit to Pakistan. And according to information, seeing the polio situation in Pakistan that has reported highest number of cases the foundation is considering to increase its investment in Pakistan.

The others who attended the meeting were Prime Minister's Focal Person on Polio Ayesha Raza Farooq, Minister of State for National Health Services Sara Afzal Tarar, UNICEF Country Head Dan Rohrmann and World Health Organisation (WHO) Country Director Dr Ni'ma Abid.

President Mamnoon Hussain said Imam mosques and religious leaders could play a vital role in converting refusals and harnessing support for polio vaccines. Regarding the inaccessibility of children to the vaccination efforts the President remarked, "I will convene Jirga of FATA elders to bring them on a resolve to lift a ban on polio."

Discussing the success stories of other Muslim countries where Imam mosques and religious elders, as a motivating force, played their fundamental part in addressing all negative propagandas, Pakistan can also get rid of the baggage of being stigmatised as one of the last polio endemic countries, opined President Mamnoon Hussain.

While talking on the resolve of the government, the President offered his all-out support to polio programme. "I will lead all efforts to support polio programme in FATA in close coordination with Army and local elders," said the President. "It is our national obligation to handover a better and healthy future to our children therefore this is the high time to work jointly for the cause of polio-free Pakistan."

While briefing the President, PM Focal Person on Polio Ayesha Raza Farooq said Pakistan this year reported more cases of polio as compared to other endemic countries Afghanistan and Nigeria. "Bulks of the cases are from FATA where we have accessibility issues."

She pointed out that due to ban on polio campaigns in North and South Waziristan, a large number of children were being missed.

She outlined strategies and measures that are being taken to resolve issues concerned inaccessibility and insecurity in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA. So far Pakistan has reported 76 cases this year and the number is expected to increase up to 85. Last year number of cases were 58.