ISLAMABAD             -        The government on Tuesday offered to probe former focal person to PM on polio - the issue was highlighted by The Nation months earlier.

After criticism from opposition parties on the floor of the Senate, the government offered to hold an inquiry against Babar Bin Atta, former focal person to Prime minister on polio eradication, for alleged corruption.

Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Mohammad Khan agreed that an inquiry should be initiated against the former focal person. If the House directs the government to hold an inquiry it will be initiated, he said. 

The House was discussing a motion moved by PPP Senator Sherry Rehman regarding an increase in polio cases in the country.

The minister said the House can also refer the matter to a parliamentary committee for a probe and the committee can summon Mr Atta.

If Senate directs government, an inquiry will be initiated against Babar Bin Atta for alleged corruption, minister says. 

He appreciated the previous PML-N government for doing a good job and reducing the number of polio cases, but claimed that the PTI government would eradicate the virus.

However, back in March 2019, this correspondent gave an exclusive story on the same issue when the Ministry of National Health Services had sought Prime Minister Imran Khan’s approval to sack Babar bin Atta from the post of PM’s Focal Person for Polio Eradication while issuing warning about the looming polio disaster in the country because of his reckless attitude towards polio eradication.

The Prime Minister’s Office, back at that time, ignored the ministry’s warning which led to an alarming spread of polio cases in Pakistan as the global Technical Advisory Group (TAG) on polio eradication in its report had noted, “Pakistan (Polio) programme is on failing trajectory, putting the rest of the global programme at risk.”

A week after the decision of sacking by NHS Ministry, Babar bin Atta resigned from the post stating that he had done so to look after his ailing father. Media reports, however, suggested that he was asked to resign due to growing complaints against him and the country’s global embarrassment because of the surge in polio cases in Pakistan during the PTI government’s tenure.

The TAG report warned that Pakistan’s polio programme is failing because of (i) Failure of coherent vision and unified strategy, (ii) Failure of national-provincial-district-UC management; (iii) Failure of focus on effective, high-quality program activities; and (iv) Failure to build trust with communities.

Official documents available with The Nation revealed that on March 12, 2019, the Ministry of National Health Services Regulations & Coordination moved a formal summary for the prime minister, seeking de-notification of Babar Bin Atta as Prime Minister’s Focal Person for Polio Eradication. 

Atta, who was earlier managing social media of Jehangir Tareen and the PTI, was appointed against this post on October 10, 2018.