Former Saudi minister asks militants to allow polio vaccine

A former Saudi Arabian health minister recently issued a public appeal asking Islamic militants in Pakistan to lift their ban on polio vaccinations for children.

Dr. Hussain Gezairy traveled to Peshawar to personally discuss the issue with leaders of the Pakistani Taliban in North and South Waziristan. The Taliban recently banned vaccination programs as a protest against U.S. drone strikes, which they say kill innocent women and children, according to

"I personally appeal to Hafiz Gul Bahadur, Maulvi Nazir, Mangal Bagh and the senior leadership of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan to lift the ban on polio vaccination in the name of future generations of the country and rest of the world," Gezairy said, reports.

Gezairy, who is currently serving as an adviser to the director general of the World Health Organization on polio eradication, said that children and matters related to their health should be kept separate from the conflict.

"Pakistan is one of the three endemic countries left in the world and the rest of the world is worried about the virus re-infecting their children," Gezairy said, according to

The former health minister praised those militant groups that have allowed anti-polio campaigns to visit their territories.

"I would like to say a word of thanks to Izzatullah of Ansarul Islam and Amar Bil Maroof for their effective role and support in ensuring a better future for the children in Pakistan," Gezairy said, reports.