Role of Ulema inevitable to eradicate  polio: PM

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“The people, who call polio vaccine un-Islamic are ill-fated. You have to stand with us against such people. This is our collective fight. We owe it to our future generation,” the prime minister said addressing the National Ulema Conference on Polio Eradication here.

Faisal Sheikh

      ISLAMABAD, Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar on Thursday calling the anti-vaxxers ill-fated people, urged the Ulema to stand against those spreading negative propaganda on the polio vaccine to make Pakistan achieve the goal of becoming a polio-free nation.

“The people, who call polio vaccine un-Islamic are ill-fated. You have to stand with us against such people. This is our collective fight. We owe it to our future generation,” the prime minister said addressing the National Ulema Conference on Polio Eradication here.

Attended by the Ulema from different schools of thought, cabinet members, diplomats and donors, the conference featured the adoption of a declaration that rejected the baseless propaganda against the polio vaccine and assured the Ulema’s all-out support to the government in its fights against the crippling virus.

The prime minister thanked the donors and supporters on behalf of the entire nation for their assistance to Pakistan in its fight against polio, reiterating the country’s resolve to eliminate the disease without showing any laxity.

“I feel ashamed when I see a polio-crippled child because we put him in a situation that could have been avoided,” he remarked.

He urged the Ulema to follow the guiding Islamic principle of probing before believing any notion in the case of polio vaccine as well as it would enhance the effectiveness of their message from the pulpit.

“Don’t our children have a right to live a healthy life and enjoy Allah’s blessings as others do? This is their fundamental human right. Their right is our responsibility,” Prime Minister Kakar said.

He said the real challenge was to convey the message to pulpits in the remote areas and at the grassroots level.

Coming to the Gaza situation and the killing of around 9,000 children by Israeli forces, he called it a sheer failure of humanity as instead of being declared a criminal, the killer was claiming to be a leader.

Likening the killing of children in Gaza with the acts of Pharaoh, he said either Israel should give up calling itself the follower of Moses or leave the footsteps of Pharaoh.

In his address, Caretaker Health Minister Dr Nadeem Jan said at the conference, the Ulema agreed and resolved to keep supporting the government’s efforts in polio eradication besides promoting the messages on other health issues.

He said besides its deadly impacts on children, the polio disease was also a burden on the national national exchequer. This also raises questions on the national dignity, he remarked.

He said that considering it a national emergency, it was the duty of every individual particularly Ulema to play their role in making Pakistan a polio-free nation. He also paid tribute to the polio workers who served the very noble cause against a meager financial benefit.

Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Religious Harmony and Pakistani Diaspora in Middle East and Muslim Countries, Hafiz Muhammad Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi read out the declaration of the conference in which the Ulema unanimously declared the polio vaccine as permissible for children’s safe future as it carried no harmful ingredients thus having no adverse impact on health.

Calling the protection against polio essential for the children as well as the parents and society, the declaration urged the

population to play its role and assured Ulema’s supportive role in this regard.

The Ulema urged the government to ensure the availability of polio vaccine across the country and take effective measures for the security of polio workers, besides paying tribute to those who sacrificed their lives or became paralyzed.

The declaration also emphasized the media to spread a positive message on the polio vaccine and called for enhanced coordination with Ulema in the areas where polio cases were being detected.

In his welcome remarks, Federal Health Secretary Iftikhar Ali Shalwani thanked Ulema for gathering over a noble cause of protecting the children from crippling diseases.

Highlighting the Ulema’s role, he said they should guide the masses about the essentiality of the polio vaccine as it was crucial to counter the negative propaganda for making Pakistan a polio-free nation by 2024.