For Immediate Release


Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

CIA’s Bin Laden Hunt Prompted Pakistan’s ‘Uncontrolled Outbreak’ of Polio?

WASHINGTON - BBC reports: “The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the spread of polio is an international public health emergency. …

“Pakistan [is] a country suffering ‘an uncontrolled outbreak’ of the virus.”

RAFIA ZAKARIA, rafia.zakaria at, @rafiazakaria
Currently in U.S., Zakaria is a columnist for DAWN, Pakistan’s largest English newspaper. Her book The Upstairs Wife: An Intimate History of Pakistan will be published this year. She recently wrote the piece “Taliban’s Rise in Karachi Must Be Stopped” in which she states, “On Jan. 21, two vaccination teams were attacked while they were administering polio vaccinations to children in Karachi. Three people were killed, including two women. Vaccination teams were also attacked in the provinces of Baluchistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. After the attacks, polio-vaccination drives halted in Karachi and in the two provinces.”

Last year, she wrote the piece, “The War, the Women, and the Vaccine“, in which she writes, “In Karachi, the polio program that had been suspended last year [2012] remained so, and no more health workers went door-to-door in the most densely populated areas of the city. The lady health workers protested the suspension, the lack of security, the cessation of the task of inoculating Pakistan’s next generation. They tried to remind the government and the world that without them the poorest women and children of a poor country would not receive any healthcare at all. No one listened. …


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“Almost no [American viewers of Zero Dark Thirty] registered the fact that the crucial bit of proof that led to Bin Laden was garnered through the auspices of a fake polio vaccination program. The DNA that determined Bin Laden’s identity procured through the collusion of a real doctor and fake lady health workers. …

“The lady health workers of Pakistan have no tools at their disposal. The fact that they operate in a country so ravaged by war and its chaos as to all but have obliterated truth does not help their situation. Medical mishaps happen so often in Pakistan that conspiracies are often the best way to explain them, and for those who cannot expect a solution, such explanations are crucial. In this midst, when proof is paraded of a ruse posturing as a cure, of a lady health worker working under the auspices of a CIA agent, of a deceptive vaccination program that could be so easily doctored up by spies searching for a killer, no shreds of faith remain on which to erect a case for their innocence. If one polio vaccination program could be co-opted by the Americans to achieve their purposes, what guarantee is there, after all, that not all of them could be somehow altered. It is hard to convince Pakistani parents that Americans care about their babies. In the aftermath of the Bin Laden raid, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan announced that the polio vaccine is meant to sterilize all the babies to whom it is administered. After all, they said, the Americans had obliterated Native Americans with the help of just such methods. …

“In the two years since the death of Osama Bin Laden, Pakistan, where polio was nearly eradicated, has registered fifty-six new cases of polio in twenty-eight different districts in the country. With the polio program all but stalled, and the newly elected government interested mostly in making peace with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, this number is likely to increase. On May 28, 2013, with the death of another female polio worker in Khyber province, the cumulative death of health workers since December went up to twelve. The death was the first since the inauguration of a new polio drive in Khyber province that is using 682 teams of health workers to try and inoculate over 200,000 Pakistani children. On June 16, 2012 two more male polio workers were killed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa which is reporting the highest number of polio cases in the country. …

“As the Lady Health Worker Program in Pakistan gasps for breath, with its workers killed and targeted, its work thwarted and delegitimized, the culprit is not one of these usual local suspects. Instead, it is an enemy that came from afar, under the cover of night, for whom the death of Osama Bin Laden, with its symbolic statement of strength, was more important than allowing the Lady Health Worker Program of Pakistan to live.”


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