SUNDAY, JUNE 24, 2018

Taliban bans polio vaccine

Hafiz Gul Bahadur, a Taliban commander in northwest Pakistan, announced on Saturday that polio vaccines will be banned in North Waziristan unless the United States stops its campaign of drone strikes in the area.

Pakistan is one of the three countries that has yet to eradicate the deadly disease. Bahadur decided to go ahead with the vaccination ban after meeting with other leaders of the Taliban. The commander leads a Taliban faction based in North Waziristan, which may be the major safe haven for militant groups like the Haqqani network that are feeding the Afghanistan insurgency, CNN reports.

"Polio drops will be banned in North Waziristan until the drones strikes are stopped," the statement said, according to CNN. "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."

In 2011, a doctor in Pakistan was connected to a CIA operation to verify the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden using a door-to-door vaccination campaign in Abbottabad. Abbottabad is the city the al-Qaeda leader was found in before he was killed. Pakistani health officials and aid groups have said the CIA's meddling with the vaccination campaign may have undermined the country's efforts to eradicate polio.

In April, John Brennan, the chief counterterrorism adviser to President Barack Obama, confirmed the use of drones.

"Yes, in full accordance with the law - and in order to prevent terrorist attacks on the United States and to save American lives - the United States government conducts targeted strikes against specific al Qaeda terrorists, sometimes using remotely piloted aircraft, often referred to publicly as drones," Brennan said, according to CNN.