According to CNN, a local Taliban commander in northwest Pakistan, Hafiz Gul Bahadur, announced on Saturday that polio vaccines will be banned in North Waziristan, Pakistan, unless the United States stops its campaign of drone strikes in the area. Bahadur leads a Taliban faction based in North Waziristan, which may be the major safe haven for militant groups like the Haqqani network, one of the most resilient of the insurgents fighting US, NATO and Afghanistan government troops.
The press release from the Taliban states:
Polio drops will be banned in North Waziristan until the drones strikes are stopped. Almost every resident of North Waziristan has become a mental patient because of the drone strikes, which are worse than polio. On one hand, the U.S. spends millions of dollars to eliminate polio, while on the other hand it kills hundreds with the help of its slave, Pakistan.
Pakistan is one of the three countries that has yet to eradicate polio. Bahadur decided to go ahead with the vaccination ban after meeting with other Taliban leaders.
In addition, CNN stated that:
The country’s polio campaign made headlines last year when a Pakistani doctor was linked to a CIA operation to verify Osama bin Laden’s whereabouts with a door-to-door vaccination campaign in the town of Abbottabad, where the al Qaeda leader was hiding before he was killed. U.S. officials have said the plan did not work, but aid groups and Pakistani health officials have said the CIA’s alleged meddling with a vaccination campaign undermined Pakistan’s efforts to eradicate polio.
Whatever the reason, the Taliban preventing children from getting polio vaccinations, that helps prevent a deadly, dangerous, debilitating disease, is a heinous act of terrorism against its own people. Whether drone strikes are moral or ethical is a discussion that is irrelevant to this discussion. Whether children are protected from disease is a moral debate that concerns me.
Vaccines save lives.