Pakistan: more polio workers murdered

While religious zealots babble about how superior “divine” law is to mere human law, other religious zealots, inspired by that very “divine” law, kill people who are trying to prevent the spread of a horrible disease. God is great.

Polio teams on Monday came under attack in Karachi, Mansehra and Panjgur for carrying out the vaccination campaign, Express News reported. The attacks left four people dead.

In Karachi, three people – including two female polio workers – were killed and two others sustained injuries in a gun attack.

The team – working without any security – was attacked in Karachi’s Qayummabad area. The injured were shifted to Jinnah hospital for medical assistance.

Unidentified armed men opened fire at a polio team in Mansehra and killed one worker. In Panjgur, Balochistan, miscreants snatched away a car from the polio team.

In a separate attack, a worker has also been killed in Oghi, a town in the Mansehra district. The polio campaign in Karachi has been halted as the female health workers have boycotted the campaign in the whole country.

Yes, “divine” law is simply fabulous. It inspires people to murder schoolteachers, students, girls on their way to school, women in possession of cell phones, doctors, aid workers – neighbors, friends, daughters, mothers – there’s just no limit to the divinity.



  1. rq says

    They’ll probably blame polio on all the infidels and apostates in the country, eventually. 🙁 With – you guessed it – complete theocracy as a solution to fixing things.
    This news makes me very sad, especially compared to this related news out of India.

  2. jesse says

    Question: is it just a matter of religious people being idiots or might it be because there are very real reasons that they don’t trust the health workers?

    I would say Answer: the latter.

    Now, before you blow out at me, I am NOT defending the people who kill health workers and saying that their reasons are good or rational. I am not saying that people shouldn’t be vaccinated.

    I am asking why this happens, and rather than talk about how the religious zealots are a bunch of benighted savages I ask “Hey, why would they have a problem with this at all?”

    And some of the reason is that for many people in the developing world, heck, many people in the US as well, there is every reason to distrust anything that largely white, western health workers have to say, or the people who locals might see as instruments of those very forces.

    This doesn’t make it right, but in the wake of incidents like Tuskeegee, to name just one, or the differential treatment of black patients in the US, to name another, or the use of less-than-safe contraception methods on third world populations (see: quinacrine and Alix Freedman’s piece from 1998), people who think spreading the benefits of things like vaccines (and I am one of these) haven’t done ourselves any favors.

    Take the quinacrine story. The problem was a well-meaning idea (family planning for developing world women) ended up being implemented in a way that most of us would find insanely unethical if it were done here in the US. A good idea went horribly wrong in this case. Off-label uses are fine, and many drugs are used that way, but this was a situation in which the concept of informed consent got a little sidetracked to say the least.

    So given repeated incidents like that, we have to ask why it is that people in Pakistan should trust any of us, or any of their health agencies, given a mixed-to-poor record of treating in-country minority ethnic groups on the one hand and the actions of many in the health/development industry in the rich world on the other?

    Or to put it another way: if you violate people’s trust, why are you surprised that local religious authorities wouldn’t hijack this? Heck, even if the local imam was solely interested in his community’s welfare, he’d have to be an idiot to trust anything you said, given the record, you know?

    Again, I am not saying that going after health workers is right: it is wrong, it is tragic, it’s a mark of the problems in communities where religious authorities have temporal power. But this kind of stuff doesn’t appear out of nowhere.

    Some things aren’t right. But they are understandable, they aren’t just magic from nowhere. And those of us who care about this stuff have a lot of trust- and confidence-building to do. Being right doesn’t make you trustworthy.

  3. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says


    yes, the horrific abuse of public mistrust of health workers does not excuse the abuses that created the mistrust in the first place.

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