- Shameless blackmailing
Traders across the country have been up in arms over the PTI government’s new tax measures aimed to expand the tax net. The protests are understandable considering how this section of the business community has expertly avoided paying its fair share and now room to manoeuvre the tax machinery has shrunk considerably. It is of course their right to protest and possibly reach a middle ground with the government. Bannu, however, is a different story where certain trader bodies are threatening to oppose an upcoming polio drive unless the government revokes its sales tax policy. Standing in the way of the eradication of an epidemic that disables children for life to get a tax break is vile, repulsive and needs to be condemned in the strongest possible way. Much of the resistance towards the anti-polio campaign comes from factions citing religious reasons; a more violent form of this refusal comes in the form of gunning down anti-polio workers by terrorist organisations. Businessmen linking their bottom lines to this critical issue for the purpose of blackmail will only make the problem worse.
Earlier this year a coordinated effort was made in Peshawar to create panic by spreading lies that the vaccination being used was expired, resulting in the burning down of a government health facility and disruption of an ongoing immunisation drive. Although the government has repeatedly claimed that they remain steadfast in the fight against polio the latest figures and reports from the province inspire little confidence. Pakistan remains one of three countries in the world where polio still prevails with KP registering 53 cases so far this year, more than any province by far, Bannu accounting for the majority of those. A serious challenge that has emerged solely due to propaganda and misinformation against polio is parents refusing to have their children vaccinated. The effects of this fear mongering are clear- two years ago KP registered a total of eight cases only. Much more needs to be done in terms of creating awareness among the people of KP to remove the misconceptions over polio immunisation. A parallel effort to thwart the spread of fake information and regular vaccination drives with protection is necessary as well.