The shooting of a policeman guarding a polio vaccination in Orangi district, Karachi, is a stark reminder that the polio problem is still raging and that the state must let it be swept under the rug in the pursuit of loftier goals. The Prime Minister launched a much-publicised polio drive when the World Polio day rolled by, showing great initiative and ingenuity in some of the proposals that were presented. Despite being one of the three countries where polio is endemic and 2014 being the year where polio cases reached the highest number since 2000, the disease can still be combated. According to estimates, in a perfect scenario, without any hurdles, the disease could be eradicated in little more than half a year.

Yet these hurdles still persist. Discounting minor – yet fixable – issues such as maintaining a pristine supply chain and proper payments to health workers, the only issue which prevents such a scenario from existing is the Taliban threat. So far the Tribal Belt has shown signs of improvement, the military campaign has driven the Taliban underground and more areas are becoming accessible. Outside the immediate areas of the operation the effect is visible, mobile teams are making progress. Yet a nationwide polio drive is still far from possible. In four districts of Baluchistan polio drives could not be launched due to security threats. Karachi, another hub of polio, is a sprawling metropolis where the Taliban still have a hold in obscure slums districts. In such areas progress has been stunted. So far the government has responded by beefing up security of the polio teams, a move that while providing protection, is not foolproof. Fortunately, any success against militancy would mean an equal success for the polio campaign. If the NAP is effectively implemented, polio drives could become much more comprehensive. So far 2015 has not seen a new polio case, if the state maintains its course, it might stay that way.