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UP’s Muslim clerics ready to help Pak with polio vaccination

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By Surbhi Khyati

Lucknow: After the recent killing of a polio vaccinator in Pakistan's Peshawar city that forced WHO to temporarily suspend the vaccination campaign in the city, Rotary International's India National Polio Plus Committee has offered to take Muslim Ulamas from UP to Pakistan to convince people and advocate polio vaccination.

On Tuesday, a female polio vaccinator was killed when two gunmen opened fired at the vaccinators on the outskirts of Peshawar —- the capital of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. The vaccinators were administering polio drops to children in the region.

Ashok Mahajan, former Director of Rotary International and chairperson of Rotary International's Muslim Ulama Committee, said he had asked Pakistan's national polio committee chairperson if the country needed assistance from the Ulama committee for advocacy of polio in the light of recent events. Mahajan assured the chairperson that if needed, Ulamas from UP are ready to travel to Pakistan and stand up for the cause of polio eradication in Pakistan.

"The role of Rotary International is not to make only India polio-free but eradicate polio from the world. With its neighbour Pakistan still endemic to polio, if the virus comes to India, it will be a disaster," said Mahajan.


He said that India, especially Uttar Pradesh, has successfully engaged Muslim religious leaders in creating awareness about polio and advocating vaccination against the disease in the community, among whom there are many myths regarding polio vaccine."In our last visit to Lucknow, we had a talk with the Ulamas and they had agreed to go to Pakistan, if needed, and create awareness there as well," said Mahajan.

Uttar Pradesh, which was once considered the major cause of polio cases in India, was successful in eradicating polio with the help of Rotary International's Muslim Ulama Committee, formed in 2007. The committee members, including prominent Muslim religious leaders from different sects, advocated polio vaccination and convinced people during Friday namaz and other religious occasions.

The executive members of the committee included Maulana S R Azmi, Principal of Nadwa College; Maulana S Kalbe Sadique, Vice-President of Muslim Personal Law Board; Maulana Khalid Rasheed Farangi Mahali, President of the Ulama Council of India; Maulana Iqbal Qadri, President of the Sunni Ulama Council of Uttar Pradesh and others.

"The problem in Pakistan regarding misconceptions about polio vaccines is similar to that of India. Since we have been successful in convincing Muslims here, we can replicate the model in Pakistan," said Maulana Khalid Rasheed Farangi Mahali.

Maulana Rasheed said that though it cannot be said with confidence whether Taliban elements in Pakistan will be convinced by their advocacy, Ulamas can try and convince the people and religious leadership of Pakistan about the vaccination drive.

(Courtesy: The Indian Express)
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