For more than 20 years, a more than $10 billion worldwide campaign has been under way to wipe out polio. But the success of that campaign depends on controlling the virus in Pakistan, where a botched CIA plot led to the Pakistani Taliban banning polio immunization in 2012. Thanks, CIA. Thanks, Taliban. No, really, way to go.
At its peak in the 1950s, polio paralyzed about 350,000 people a year around the world. This year, so far, there have been only 128 cases recorded. Ninety-nine of them have been in Pakistan. And the South Asian nation is the only country in the world where the number of polio cases is rising significantly.
The edict by the Islamic militants to ban immunization was in response to the CIA's setting up a fake hepatitis vaccination campaign in Pakistan. The covert operation was part of an attempt by the U.S. spy agency to verify whether Osama bin Laden was holed up in the city of Abbottabad.