Dawn – Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly split over proposed legislation against domestic violence

Zulfiqar Ali

Peshawar – Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – Pakistan, 15 October 2019. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Domestic Violence against Women (Prevention and Protection) Bill, 2019, which has been shuttling among different constitutional and legal forums since 2014, failed to sail through the provincial assembly on Monday.

As the house remained divided on the bill’s contents, the draft was referred to the Select Committee to thrash out 42 amendments proposed by the treasury and opposition members.

The lawmakers of religious parties insisted that many clauses of the bill were un-Islamic, so the advice of the Council of Islamic Ideology should be sought about them instead of holding a discussion on them in the assembly.

Food minister Qalandar Khan Lodhi moved the bill for consideration to hold a debate on the proposed amendments.

Bill sent to panel to mull proposed amendments [centre/italics]

Like the previous assembly, lawmakers of religious parties in the incumbent house once again opposed the bill and termed certain clauses of the proposed law ‘un-Islamic’ and against the spirit of the Constitution.

They asked Speaker Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani to refer the bill to the CCI instead of discussing it in the Select Committee.

“Though we are not supporting domestic violence against women, we believe that certain clauses of the bill are in conflict with the teachings of the Holy Quran and Sunnah,” said MMA MPA Inayatullah Khan.

The opposition member said the CII was the most appropriate forum for seeking advice on the bill, so the bill shouldn’t be referred to the Select Committee.

He said Article 229 of the Constitution declared, “the president or the governor of a province may, or if two-fifths of its total membership so requires, a House or a Provincial Assembly shall, refer to the CII for advice any question as to whether a proposed law is or is not repugnant to the Injunction of Islam.”

The lawmaker also said Rule 84 of the provincial assembly’s Procedure and Conduct of Business Rules, 1988, suggested the seeking of the council’s advice on a proposed law if it was repugnant to the teaching and requirements of Islam.

MPA Munawar Khan of the MMA also spoke against the bill insisting that un-Islamic clauses were part of the proposed law.

He said the bill’s clauses were also in conflict with the culture and values of the local society.

Law minister Sultan Mohammad Khan opposed the demand of the MMA MPAs.

He said lawmakers from both sides of the house had submitted proposed amendments to the bill, so there was no need to send the proposed law to the CII. The minister suggested that the treasury and opposition be given equal representation in the committee.

Speaker Mushtaq Ghani said two-fifths of the house’s strength was required for referring a proposed law to the council, while the MMA didn’t have the required numbers to do so.

The bill was sent to the Select Committee.

The proposed law regarding domestic violence against women has been under discussion since 2014. Its draft has been discussed in seminars, workshops and conferences in Peshawar and Islamabad but the discussions remained inconclusive.

The previous PTI government had sent the bill to the CII in 2016 for advice due to opposition by the Jamaat-i-Islami, the then government ally, and other religious parties, which believed that the matter involved the interpretation of Islamic injunctions.

The council had returned the draft bill with reservations.

The assembly also passed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Enforcement of Women’s Property Rights Bill, 2019, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Legal Aid Bill, 2019, and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Promotion, Protection and Enforcement of Human Rights (Amendment) Bill, 2019.

The session was prorogued afterward.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1510950/kp-assembly-split-over-proposed-legislation-against-domestic-violence

The Express Tribune – Across religious divides: For Sikhs in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, there is no other place like home

Ahtisham Khan

Peshawar – Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – Pakistan, 12 October 2019. Where grim occurrences of violence routinely taint the news, the north-western province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa shines as a beacon of light for religious harmony in the country.

Amidst the lush green valleys and the rugged mountains of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the Muslims and Sikhs enjoy a rich culture of mutual-corporation and hospitality that transcends the bounds of faith, and embrace each other in the name of humanity.

Thousands of Sikhs migrated to Pakistan after the split of the subcontinent, settling in the north-western province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where they’ve lived in peace with the Muslim Pashtuns for time immemorial, sharing roofs, meals and a long-established sense of brotherhood.

Through the ages, the Sikh community has remained at the forefront of charity in the face of calamity, be it the massacre of APS, the suicide attacks in Kohati Gate or the attack on All Saints church in Peshawar.

“If there’s death in the family of our Muslim brothers and sisters, we extend our shoulders, take part in their prayers and share our food with the grieving family. If there is festivity, we open our homes for their ceremonies and take part in their festivals” told Muneet Kaur, a Sikh resident of Peshawar, while speaking to The Express Tribune.

According to Dr Sahab Singh, Ex-City Leader, the Sikh population in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is approximately 30,000 with 1100 families, while in Peshawar, their number is almost 7000. Yet, despite the large numbers and the prevalent extremism, there has never been an occurrence of a major scuffle between the members of two faiths.

Although the Sikhs were compelled to move out of the tribal areas in the wake of deteriorating law and order situations, they reiterated that it was not possible for them to forsake their Muslim brethren, told Singh.

During the previous years, members of the Sikh community were victim to target killing and were forced to move from Peshawar to Punjab in pursuits of peace. Sardar Soren Sigh, a PTI worker and MPA from Buner, who actively campaigned for minority rights, was murdered in cold blood on the 22nd of April 2016.

However, the man accused for his murder, Buldev Kumar, also a former PTI lawmaker, sought political asylum in India.

Another prominent Sikh social worker and leader of cross-border religion committee, Sardar Charan Singh, was murdered in the Budhper area of Peshawar on the 29th of May 2018, which devastated the morale of Peshawar’s Sikh community.

Although the two men involved in the target killing were soon arrested, Singh’s family was left with crippling financial constraints and with no option but to move to Bahawalpur in Punjab.

“The relations between Sikhs and Muslims have always been cordial and whenever the birthday of Guru Nanak comes, the Muslim brothers welcome Sikh pilgrims with carpets, which is a gesture of honour and respect.

Besides this, Sikh community is hand in hand with the Muslims in their religious festivals too; we hold Iftar parties in Ramadan and I share all my joys and sorrows with my Muslim friends,” shared the General Secretary of Gurudwara Bhai Beba Singh.

Pakistan to issue 10,000 visas to Sikh pilgrims

For the past four decades, Sikh traders of Tehsil Jamrud in Khyber Agency, have maintained a tradition of selling food items for exceptionally low prices, in honour of the month of Ramadan.

“Our women clean pulses and peas at homes to facilitate our Muslim neighbours in the holy month,” told Narinjan Singh, a K-P local, while speaking to The Express Tribune.

https://tribune.com.pk/story/2077732/1-across-religious-divides-sikhs-k-p-no-place-like-home/

Tolo News – Afghan ambassador threatens to shut down consulate in Peshawar

Mashal protests the removal of the Afghan flag from the Firdous market by Pakistani police.

Peshawar – Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – Pakistan, 11 October 2019. Afghanistan’s Ambassador to Pakistan, Shukrullah Atif Mashal, issued a statement on Friday threatening to shut down the Afghan Consulate in Peshawar because of the alleged removal of the Afghan flag on Afghan-owned property by Pakistani police.

The statement said that on Thursday night the Pakistani police entered the Firdous market in Peshawar city and closed the market, which, Mashal claims, is the sole property of the Afghan government.

“Over the past few days the Pakistani police have entered the area several times without informing the Afghan embassy, and they have removed Afghanistan’s flag, against diplomatic convention and neighborly manners.”

According to reports, the ownership of the property is disputed, but the Afghan Embassy maintains that the market property belongs to the Afghan government.

On Thursday, Mashal expressed optimism that the incident would not damage relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

He claimed that a decision over the property ownership of the Firdous market has been reached between the two governments.

https://tolonews.com/afghanistan/afghan-ambassador-threatens-shut-down-consulate-peshawar

The News – Police book four Hindus for insulting Sikh gurus

Peshawar – Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – Pakistan, 25 August 2019. The police have registered a case against a pandit and three other members of the Hindu community for using insulting remarks against the gurus of the Sikh religion.

One Balbir Singh approached the Hashtnagri Police Station in Peshawar to complain that Pandit Sheonath Sharma along with Suraj Kumar, Ram Prakash and Keol Nath Sharma had used insulting remarks for the gurus of the Sikh community on their social media pages.

He said this angered members of the Sikh community and they asked the police to take action against the accused. On the complaint of Balbir Singh, the police lodged the case against the four accused.

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/517044-police-book-four-hindus-for-insulting-sikh-gurus

Dawn – Tribals see KP Assembly elections as ‘beginning of a new life’

Zulfiqar Ali

Peshawar – Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – Pakistan, 21 July 2019.

Yaka Ghund – Mohmand District: For 60-year-old Abdul Jalil, July 20 is a day of joy and celebration like over five million other residents of the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).

“I feel that we (tribal people) spent 72 years in the hell and today is the beginning of a new life,” said Jalil, a resident of Yakaghund area in Mohmand tribal district.

He was sitting under a large canopy pitched outside a polling station, waiting for his turn to cast vote in the first-ever provincial assembly elections in his area.

“Today is the most important day for the people of tribal districts. There are many reasons for them to celebrate the occasion because they will have representation in the provincial assembly and will get rid of the corrupt administration, and there will be more development,” he told Dawn.

For 60-year-old Abdul Jalil, July 20 is a day of joy and celebration like over five million other residents of the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).

The scene outside the polling station was full of excitement.

The candidates placed large-size canopies to protect voters from the scorching sun.

Workers decorated the venue with flags of their parties and posters of candidates, while vendors sold ice cream, mobile phone SIM cards, and food items.

The polling began at 8am on Saturday. Elaborate security arrangements were seen inside and outside polling stations. Candidates arranged transport vehicles to provide pick and drop to voters.

After decades of neglect, the people of tribal districts got the historic opportunity to elect 16 members of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on general seats. Tribal people already have representation in upper and lower houses of Parliament.

Abdul Jalil gave the youths of former Fata credit for raising voice for their constitutional rights at every forum.

“We got representation in the provincial assembly because of the youths’ struggle,” he said.

The decision to bring millions of people of former Fata to the mainstream took over seven decades, while tribal people paid a heavy price for it. The reforms process began in tribal districts during Field Martial Ayub Khan’s Basic Democracy in 1959.

The populist prime minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, initiated the development of infrastructure to fulfil basic needs of the people. He paid extensive visits to the area and launched projects through the defunct Fata Development Corporation.

President Farooq Ahmad Khan Leghari and caretaker prime minister Malik Meraj Khalid took one step forward by introducing adult franchise system in Fata in 1996. Before that, only selected Maliks were allowed to elect members of Parliament.

President Asif Ali Zardari has the credit to extend the Political Parties Act to the region in 2010 allowing political parties to carry out activities, while the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif got 25th amendment to the Constitution passed in parliament.

The 80-page report of the six-member Committee on Fata Reforms, 2016, headed by Sartaj Aziz paved the way for the merger of tribal areas with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in July 2018 and the subsequent representation of the region in the provincial assembly despite the opposition of vested interests in political circles and establishment.

The PTI can be credited for fulfilling the dream by holding elections in merged tribal districts for the KP Assembly.

The eras of military regimes led by Zia-ul-Haq and Pervez Musharraf proved dark periods for the tribal people. The region experienced militancy, brutalities, drug trafficking, proxy wars, displacement and poverty.

The provincial assembly elections have made the residents of merged districts very optimistic about the future.

They hope that the polls will pave the way for good governance, provision of quality education to their children, improvement of health delivery system, and employment of youths. The post-merger era is a big challenge for the PTI government and state institutions.

“Former Fata was a grazing filed for the government officials because there was no audit of funds and accountability. Officers serving in the erstwhile tribal agencies were not answerable to anybody,” said Hassan Wali, former conservator (forest), who had served in tribal area for many years.

“This is a big achievement of the merger is that the Annual Development Programme for tribal districts has been increased from Rs 21 billion to Rs 83 billion and it will get Rs 100 billion per annum from the National Finance Commission Award at the rate of three per cent,” he said, adding that the people’s destiny would change if development funds were utilised judiciously.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1495286/tribals-see-kp-assembly-elections-as-beginning-of-a-new-life

Sikh24.com – Special Sikh school to come up at Peshawar

Sikh24 Editors

Peshawar – Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – Pakistan, 27 June 2019. On the demand of Sikhs living in Peshawar, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s state government is going to open a community based school for the Sikhs in Peshawar. On June 24, the Auqaf, Hajj, Religious and Minority Affairs Department of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa wrote a letter to the Executive Engineer to submit Detailed Cost Estimate of this project within two weeks.

Available information reveals that the Auqaf, Hajj, Religious and Minority Affairs Department of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has reserved Rupees 20 million as a proposed cost of this project.

It is learnt that the concerned department has reserved Rupees 55 million in this year’s annual budget for the welfare of minorities living in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Special Sikh School to Come Up at Peshawar

The Express Tribune – Tribal area Sikhs angry at being ignored for tickets in election

Ahtesham Khan

Peshawar – Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – Pakistan, 31 May 2019. Even though Sikhs make up a majority of the minority communities in the seven newly merged districts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), they seem to have been ignored by all political parties when awarding tickets on reserved seats for minorities in the upcoming provincial assembly elections.

This has irked the resident Sikh community, who number more than 45,000 but are predominantly concentrated in three tribal districts including Khyber, Orakzai and Kurram.

Baba Gurpal Singh, who had unsuccessfully applied for a ticket with the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), told The Express Tribune that even though he had been associated with the party since 2013.

He added that despite assurances and promises from the party leadership, a person who had joined the party just two months ago had been awarded a ticket while he had been ignored.

The provincial assembly already has a Kailashi and a Hindu on the minority seats in the provincial assembly.

“We do appreciate the efforts of all political parties [in nominating minority members], but despite the assurances of the PTI, they have awarded their sole seat from the tribal areas to a Christian, while we are ignored,” Singh complained.

“The community has been irked by the dealing of PTI, we are going to register our reservations with K-P Governor Shah Farman, Federal Minorities Minister Noorul Haq Qadri and K-P Chief Minister Mahmood Khan and will demand that the party revisit their decisions,” Singh said.

PTI has awarded the ticket to Wilson Wazir, who only recently joined the party.

The PTI and the Sikh community have a particularly complicated history. In the May 2013 elections, the PTI had handed a ticket to Sardar Soran Singh of Buner. He went on to become the provincial minister for minorities in the cabinet led by Pervez Khattak.

However, he was assassinated near his house in April 2016 by fellow Sikh Baldev Kumar. Kumar was a political rival of the former minorities minister and was first in line to take up Singh’s seat.

PTI announces ticket holders

The PTI has issued a list of its 16 ticket holders for the upcoming provincial assembly elections in the newly merged tribal areas.

According to PTI’s Central Media Department, Anwar Zeb Khan has been handed a PTI ticket for PK-100 Bajuar-I, Ajmal Khan has been given a ticket for PK-101 Bajuar-II, Hamidur Rehman for PK-102 Bajaur-III, Rahim Shah for PK-1-3 Mohmand-I, Muhammad Israr for PK-104 Mohmand-II, Shahid Hussain for PK-105 Khyber-I, Amir Khan Afridi for PK-106 Khyber-II, Muhammad Zubair for PK-107 Khyber-III, Shahid Khan for PK-108 Kurram-I, Syed Iqbal Mian for PK-109 Kurram-II, Shoaib Hassan for PK-110 Orakzai, Mohammad Iqbal Khan for PK-111 North Waziristan-I, Aurang Zaib Khan PK-112 North Waziristan-II, Afsar Khan PK-113 South Waziristan-I, Naseerullah Khan PK-114 South Waziristan-II and Abidur Rehman Pk-115 for the frontier regions.

Further, all other candidates have been directed to immediately withdraw in favour of the candidates nominated by the party. The candidates were selected by a three-member Parliamentary Board comprising Qadri, K-P Chief Minister Mehmood and PTI Secretary General Irshad Dad.

With additional input from Riswan Ghilzai in Islamabad

https://tribune.com.pk/story/1983852/1-tribal-area-sikhs-angry-ignored-tickets-election/

The News – No roadside Iftar by Sikhs in Peshawar this year

Javed Aziz Khan

Peshawar – Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – Pakistan, 12 May 2019. As different organisations and individuals continue to arrange food and drinks for fasting Muslims in the provincial capital and elsewhere, the Peshawarites are missing the traditional dastarkhwan by Sikh community members who had been hosting Iftar for the faithful throughout Ramazan for the last many years.

For the first time in many years, the Sikh community members in Peshawar are not hosting roadside Iftar dinner for Muslims. Instead, they provided ration to orphanages and charities.

“This time we are not arranging the roadside Iftars but our members have provided ration to different charity organizations,” Baba Gurpal Singh, a leader of the Sikh community, told The News. He added that they were asked not to arrange these “Iftar dastarkhwans” due to certain threats.

He reminded that Sadar Charanjeet Singh, who was killed last year was one of the main people behind arranging Iftar dinners. “However, we will continue to serve humanity in whatever way we can to spread love and peace,” added Baba Gurpal Singh.

The members of the Sikh community had been serving food, chilled drinks and snacks to hundreds of Muslims at the roadside “dastarkhwans” in different parts of Peshawar for the last many years. The roadside meals used to be arranged for almost the whole holy month. Apart from labourers and other needy people, passersby used to get food at these dastarkhwans.

The tradition was appreciated all over the country and in many parts of the world as an excellent gesture of interfaith harmony. The pictures of young and old Sikhs welcoming everyone arriving at Iftar dastarkhwan with a smile and serving them with a glass of chilled lassi, sharbat, fruit and cooked food were posted in the mainstream and social media all over the world.

Muslims and Sikhs enjoy cordial relations in Peshawar and in many other cities of the country for decades.

Khurshid Khan, a senior lawyer from Peshawar, used to visit the places of worship of Sikhs in past years to clean their shoes and place them in the racks to promote interfaith harmony. His gesture was widely lauded.

With the start of the holy month, a number of people have started arranging roadside Iftar in Peshawar and all over the country where passersby, labourers and others come in the evening to have drinks and food to break their fast.

Many young men have arranged Iftars in Hayatabad, University Road, Saddar Bazaar, Bara Road, Kohat Road, Charsadda Road, Ring Road GT Road, inner city and other places where thousands of people are provided free food and drinks daily.

A non-governmental organization, Darmaan provided food to around 500 people daily.

“Darmaan was founded five years ago from a single dastarkhwan which turned into a concept and idea for many youth across Pakistan.

Darmaan has served over 500,000 people in the past five years, encouraging the concept of dastarkhwan and mobile food delivery in hospitals, jails and at footpaths,” Saud Shah Roghani, a young man running Darmaan, told The News. He said the plan is to spread the dastarkhwan to many other cities of the country in the coming days.

Serve Mankind, a group of youth led by Asad Ali Lodhi, the main person behind the idea of Wall of Kindness, also arranges food for hundreds of people in Hayatabad and other parts of the provincial capital daily.

“Serve Mankind Dastarkhwan is organized on a daily basis. Now everyone can be part of this noble campaign where you can bring your meal for those who need it the most and volunteer at dastarkhwan,” said Asad Ali Lodhi.

The youth in Peshawar introduced a number of novel ideas in recent years to serve the needy. They introduced Wall of Kindness to provide warm clothes and launched Happiness Box and Korba refrigerator to provide food to labourers and other deserving people.

Many of these initiatives, however, could not be continued for long due to different reasons. “The ideas like Korba, Happiness Box and more need to continue throughout the year to provide food to the needy people,” commented a Peshawar resident Imtiaz Ahmad.

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/470371-no-roadside-iftar-by-sikhs-in-peshawar-this-year

Dawn – Following rumours, refusals to vaccinate children against polio rise by 85pc in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

Peshawar – Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – Pakistan, 26 April 2019. Instances of parents’ refusal to allow health workers to administer anti-polio drops to their children rose by 85 per cent in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa after rumours pertaining to the authenticity of the vaccine provoked hysteria across the province, Dr Ejaz, an official of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) for polio said on Friday.

Across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, more than 700,000 families refused to vaccinate children, whereas in the last anti-polio drive, which was held last month, the number of refusal cases was 57,000, Dr Ejaz said. He attributed the alarming increase in the number of refusal cases to rumours spread against the vaccine that is administered to prevent the virus.

In Peshawar alone, the number of refusal cases rose by 79pc as about 164,000 out of 800,000 families refused to allow health workers to administer anti-polio drops to their children, he said. Due to prevailing rumours against the vaccine, anti-polio campaign had to be postponed in 24 union councils of Peshawar.

“This is the highest number of refusal cases reported in an anti-polio campaign,” Dr Ejaz said.

“The propaganda against anti-polio vaccines created panic in Peshawar and other districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and has badly affected the efforts of the government to eradicate polio,” he said, adding that the EOC will come up with a new strategy before initiating another anti-polio campaign, which will be held in June.

He regretted that the rumours have exposed children to the risk of becoming victims of the crippling polio virus.

Dr Ejaz said that the EOC will take local and religious leaders, as well as members of the civil society, on board in order to allay the fear and misconceptions of parents regarding the vaccine.

Panic over rumours against anti-polio vaccine

Panic spread across Peshawar earlier this week after reports that 75 students at a school in Badhber, complaining of headaches, nausea and abdominal pain allegedly after being administered the anti-polio vaccine, were admitted to Hayatabad Medical Complex. Shortly after, doctors began releasing them, saying they were in stable condition.

Panicked parents continued taking their children to hospitals for checkups till late at night, some 300 children visited Lady Reading Hospital, and mosques added further grist to the rumours by issuing intermittent warnings over their loudspeakers to not get children vaccinated, and that those who had must reach hospitals to avoid a reaction.

Most children were released after treatment, health workers said. The doctors at LRH said it was psychological, whatever it was that was impacting the children. In Charsadda, 800 children were hospitalised.

Family members and area residents resorted to agitation in protest against the incident. They broke the doors and windows of a hospital during their protest, set a Basic Health Unit in the area on fire and held polio workers hostage for some time.

Deputy Superintendent of Police Saddar Sahibzada Sajjad told DawnNewsTV that a first information report (FIR) had been registered at the Badhber police station against identified individuals for setting fire to a Basic Health Unit and causing widespread panic by rumour-mongering.

Addressing the hysteria across the province, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Health Minister Dr Hisham Inamullah Khan held a press conference to debunk the rumours about the vaccine. “We have an inquiry report and the only thing it points towards is panic.

The school from where it all started, there should be an investigation against them. These two, three schools had also refused the anti-polio campaign earlier. They did not want drops administered to their students,” he claimed.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1478555/following-rumours-refusals-to-vaccinate-children-against-polio-rise-by-85pc-in-kp

Dawn – Peshawar police arrest man alleging anti-polio vaccines cause children to faint, die

Peshawar – Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – Pakistan, 23 April 2019. Police in Peshawar arrested a man on Tuesday after he allegedly spread misinformation about the anti-polio vaccine in a series of videos that went viral on social media, a day after hundreds of children in different cities complained of illness and were admitted to hospitals in the midst of a province-wide anti-polio drive.

Videos circulating on Twitter show a resident of Peshawar’s Mashokhel area, Nazar Muhammad, in Hayatabad Medical Complex, where children from a school in Badhber were admitted yesterday with complaints of illness following administration of the anti-polio vaccine.

In the video, Nazar alleges that administration of the vaccine causes children to fall unconscious. Then he turns to a group of children standing next to him and orders them to “fall asleep”. They then lie down on the hospital bed behind them as if they were unconscious.

When a boy gets up, Nazar tells him to “fall asleep” again, after which he lies down on the bed again.

In another video, Nazar is speaking to reporters outside, surrounded by a crowd of men. He alleges that some children in his video died after being administered the vaccine.

The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Khyber Pakhtunkhwa tweeted the videos with the caption: “EXPOSED: Watch how young innocent kids were made to lay down in hospital beds and pretend they’re suffering due to polio vaccination, to give a wrong message to masses regarding the polio campaign.”

KP and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas have long seen vaccine refusal cases. According to provincial officials and anti-polio campaign documents, suspicion about the vaccine stems from misconceptions about the oral polio vaccine (OPV) which have persisted since 2004, when obscurantist elements and militants in the area spread rumours that certain hormones were deliberately added to the OPV to make Muslim children sterile.

Panic over anti-polio drive

Panic spread across Peshawar yesterday after reports that 75 students at a school in Badhber, complaining of headaches, nausea and abdominal pain allegedly after being administered the anti-polio vaccine, were admitted to Hayatabad Medical Complex. Shortly after, doctors began releasing them, saying they were in stable condition.

Family members and area residents resorted to agitation in protest against the incident. They broke the doors and windows of a hospital during their protest, set a Basic Health Unit in the area on fire and held polio workers hostage for some time.

Panicked parents continued taking their children to hospitals for checkups till late at night, some 300 children visited Lady Reading Hospital, and mosques added further grist to the rumours by issuing intermittent warnings over their loudspeakers to not get children vaccinated, and that those who had must reach hospitals to avoid a reaction.

Most children were released after treatment, health workers said. The doctors at LRH said it was psychological whatever it was that was impacting the children. In Charsadda 800 children were hospitalised.

Deputy Superintendent of Police Saddar Sahibzada Sajjad told DawnNewsTV that a first information report (FIR) had been registered at the Badhber police station against identified individuals for setting fire to a Basic Health Unit and causing widespread panic by rumour-mongering.

DSP Sajjad confirmed Nazar Muhammad’s arrest and said that further arrests would be made using videos of the protests and vandalism.

Police obtained one-day remand for Nazar from the court today.

KP government to probe incident

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Health Minister Dr Hisham Inamullah Khan held a press conference in Peshawar last night to debunk the rumours about the vaccine. “We have an inquiry report and the only thing it points towards is panic.

The school from where it all started, there should be an investigation against them. These two, three schools had also refused the anti-polio campaign earlier. They did not want drops administered to their students,” he claimed.

His claim was echoed by Chief Police Officer Qazi Jalilur Rehman, who had said the issue of alleged reaction from polio vaccines emerged from one school.

The health minister added that a preliminary investigation had revealed there was no issue of the expiry of vaccines. “We are also investigating a batch of vaccines which we procured from an Indonesia-based manufacturing firm.

The matter was blown by media out of proportions which swelled to a big crisis but in reality there is nothing to worry as all the children are safe,” he said.

The Emergency Operation Centre of KP has formed a committee under the additional deputy commissioner to investigate the issue and submit its findings in 48 hours.

Prime Minister’s Focal Person Babar Bin Atta had said that action would be taken against those who created the rumours to damage the polio vaccination campaign.

“Panic was created to jeopardise polio vaccination as part of a campaign and to put our children at risk of diseases. It is a criminal act and perpetrators will be held accountable. There were no instances of diarrhoea or skin rashes on affected children,” he explained.

He pledged that the vaccination drive would continue till polio was completely eradicated from the country. “The WHO-approved OPV used for eradication of poliovirus worldwide is safe for children and parents must have it administered to their children.”

https://www.dawn.com/news/1477890/peshawar-police-arrest-man-alleging-anti-polio-vaccines-cause-children-to-faint-die