Anti-polio campaign for all age groups to begin at Pak-Afghan border

A polio worker administers anti-polio drops to a child in the newly-merged tribal district. The campaign starts at the Torkham border from March 25. Photo courtesy Emergency Operation Center (EOC) Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). (AFP/File)
Updated 15 March 2019
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Anti-polio campaign for all age groups to begin at Pak-Afghan border

  • Vaccinations will be administered along the Torkham crossing from March 25
  • Move to limit the spread of the virus in highly-sensitive areas

PESHAWAR: As part of a global initiative to eradicate polio, a campaign to vaccinate Pakistanis of all ages will be launched at the Torkham border on March 25, an senior official said on Friday.
Capt. (Retd) Kamran Ahmed Afridi, a coordinator at the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Emergency Operation Center (EOC), said: “All age travelers crossing Pakistan-Afghanistan Torkham border will be vaccinated by the transit teams of both countries with the purpose to interrupt polio virus circulation in the region.”
The virus, he added, mostly infects children but adults can act as carriers, too. Hence the need for an all-age vaccination to put an end to the transmission of the virus across the borders.
“We are close to polio eradication and now this decision by the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan... will help contain the virus circulation in the region,” Afridi said.
He added that the Khyber tribal district has remained as a high priority tier as it’s a polio endemic area, with a history of a higher number of cases.
The area is also located adjacent to Peshawar, the provincial capital of the KP province, which has also been marked as a polio reservoir area and one which is frequented by the virus, he added.
“Additional male and female transit teams and social mobilizers have already been hired, trained and will soon be deployed (across the Torkham-crosson border) to start the vaccination process from the set date,” Afridi said.
Khyber is one district which sees the movement of around 14,000 travelers on a daily basis.
According to reports, two new cases of the polio virus had surfaced in the province, bringing the total number of cases to 10 in the country.


Mosque attack victims: Eight Pakistanis buried in Christchurch

Updated 22 March 2019
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Mosque attack victims: Eight Pakistanis buried in Christchurch

  • Funeral was attended by more than 5,000 people
  • New Zealand broadcasts the Islamic call to prayer across the country

ISLAMABAD: Out of the nine Pakistani nationals who were shot dead in two New Zealand mosques last week, eight were laid to rest on Friday after a mass funeral in Christchurch, the largest city of the country’s South Island.
At least 50 people were killed in twin attacks on two mosques on March 15 when a white supremacist opened fire on the worshippers.
“Today, eight Pakistani Shaheed (martyrs) have been buried in a local graveyard in Christchurch according to Islamic rituals. More than 20 family members, who flew from Pakistan, were able to join (the procession),” Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Dr. Muhammad Faisal tweeted on Friday.
Travel arrangements for the family members of the victims were facilitated by Pakistan’s Foreign Office (FO) and the government of New Zealand.
On Friday, thousands of people gathered for a mass funeral which was “attended by more than 5,000 people, of which there were about 1,500 Muslims, who came from all over New Zealand...Shaheed (martyred) Syed Areeb Ahmed will be repatriated to Pakistan in the next few days. His family is being kept informed”, excerpts from a statement released by the FO read.
“Emotions were high, during the funeral prayers,” Kaleem Khan, a Pakistani community leader, told Arab News from Christchurch.
Meanwhile, as a mark of respect, New Zealand broadcasted the Islamic call to prayer on Friday, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern joining the congregation of mourners near Al-Noor mosque, one of the two locations which had been targeted last week.
Ardern and thousands of others observed two minutes of silence in memory of the victims, following which the premier said that New Zealand was mourning with the families of the victims. 
A day earlier, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had called Ardern to condemn last week’s attacks before expressing his admiration over her handling of the situation, particularly her attempts to help the nation’s grieving Muslim community heal.