Five female polio workers shot dead in Pakistan

In Pakistan, five polio vaccination workers, all of whom were female, have been shot dead in a string of planned attacks. Four took place within 20 minutes across Karachi. No one has claimed responsibility, but the Taliban have previously issued threats against the UN-backed polio drive.



        1. You didn’t ask whether it was ‘fine’, you asked what was wrong with the locals. There are various other anti-vaxxer currents floating around (Nigeria had a setback a few years ago when somebody decided that it was a UN plot to sterilize muslims or something, and we are probably all familiar with the US and UK variants); but you would expect the fact that some of the local vaccination teams actually having been CIA spooks in past years probably turned up the rumor mill a few notches.

          That has no relevance to the ethical status of shooting medical staff;  but it certainly has explanatory value…

          1. Because I think that the Taliban’s executions of medical staff is deplorable does not mean that I condone the past or current actions of my government. My comment was made not as a politically charged indictment but as a generally sympathetic remark for the victims (the people that were murdered). I understand that there are reasons for these events but that doesn’t mean that there are excuses. Though the difference is subtle between the two, that doesn’t mean that they are the same. 

          2. The US government turned polio workers into military targets.  If the CIA starts murdering your neighbors while dressed in gas company uniforms, what’s your response going to be when someone from the gas company shows up at your door.  The US government’s choice to mix polio work with spying is one of the worst war crimes that we have ever committed.

          3. While I agree that the CIA did something spectacularly awful, I think we really need to put some blame on the government of Pakistan. Polio could have already been eradicated there. They need to do what is necessary to protect the health workers. 

          4. The per capita income in Pakistan is $1,200. They have millions of refugees from floods over the last decades. There’s a war going on.

          5. Sure, and India’s per capita income is 1,528. India contains the largest concentration of people living below the World Bank’s international poverty line. Improving conditions in Pakistan means reducing poverty. Eradicating diseases like polio is a critical step to achieving that. The government of Pakistan should see this program as means of strengthening internal security in the long term. 

      1.  Right; not for nothin’ but the CIA used that cover of medical neutrality, & compromised the broader goals of real medical professionals, as well as their safety.

  1. I’m usually not terribly vindictive or at least I try not to be as much as is possible…. but my vote is we find the people responsible and give them the gift of debilitating polio.

    I’m starting to wonder if its too much to ask but this year I think I’m going to wish for just one day where I can read the news without wondering whats wrong with the world.

        1. Are girls singled out and shot in some areas for trying to get an education? Are women shot for holding a job? Those questions might have been behind the gender highlighting, I’d imagine.

    1. It is my understanding that vaccination efforts in that part of the world require a lot of female ground staff because the “Hi! I’m a strange man, would you mind bringing out your women and children so I can vaccinate them?” pitch doesn’t go over well. What I don’t know is what the proportion of male to female vaccination outreach workers is, and how much more difficult it is to access other health workers who might be seen to be related(at clinics, hospitals, NGO or government offices).

      The house-to-house outreach people would certainly be the softest targets, so you’d expect an opportunistic opponent of the program to target them first; but I don’t know if they had be selective to kill who they did, or whether the numbers are such that they’d have been hard pressed to kill in any other proportion.

  2. Shit! The polio eradication drive has been going really well recently, with less than half the cases this year compared with last year, which was a substantial reduction compared to the year before that (see ). Let’s hope that the vaccinations manage to be given according to schedule… 

    1. Luckily, Islam provides no incentive for adherents from all over the world to get together at a big annual gathering(including some rather downmarket sanitation for the poorer ones) so a failure of the eradication effort in Pakistan is very unlikely to have any broader consequences…

  3. If only those medical workers had been armed, then they’d have been able to protect themselves from crazed gunmen!  
    Sorry, I have NRA talking points fatigue.  It’s made me insane.

  4. “Hey you know who it would be cool to shoot? Kids. No no, that’s not cool, how about women.” — religious people who claim to have a point.

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