By Mushtaq Yusufzai and Waj S. ET: PESHAWAR, Pakistan Pakistan may be one of the world’s three remaining polio stricken countries but Sartaj Khan has decided that the government sponsored vaccination campaign is much more sinister than it appears.
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Khan is not alone in the belief, propagated by extremist groups, that is gaining currency in the Pashtun belt of northwestern Pakistan: The government anti polio campaign is a ruse by the Americans to sterilize or spy on Muslims.
Many also believe that much like the Pakistani physician,
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The belief has turned deadly: Nine anti polio workers have been killed by gunmen on motorcycles this week. Some of those killed were teenage girls. Following the violence,
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Muhammed Muheisen / AP
Images of daily life, political pursuits, religious rites and deadly violence.
There are ranks of parents whose awareness is low and suspicions high when it comes to the deadly virus: A November World Health Organization study found that 41 percent of those polled had never heard of polio and 11 percent refused to vaccinate their children.
The reality is that polio can paralyze or kill within hours of infection. It is transmitted person to person, meaning that as long as one child is infected,
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Photos: Vaccination workers gunned down in Pakistan
Nuclear armed and militancy struck Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria are the only countries still struggling with polio. Extremists have opposed vaccination programs in Afghanistan and Nigeria,
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Mohsin Raza / Reuters
A female polio worker gives polio vaccine drops to a child in Lahore,
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Polio also disproportionately affects members of the Pashtun population in Pakistan,
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Shamim Bibi, a 25 year old mother of two who has been working in Peshawar suburbs as an anti polio campaign worker for the last nine years,
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More Pakistan coverage from NBC News
Suspicion of the United States does indeed run deep,
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"My daughter was too young to leave this world,
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As experts cite the latest violence as a new form of "low tech, high concept" attacks by Pakistan militants, Rehman can only wonder if those trying to stop the disease are missing the point.