What's the thinking here?? (Taliban ban on polio vaccinations)

Was reading this article on the plan by the Taliban to ban polio vaccinations to people in Pakistan until the US stops it’s drone attacks. I get that they don’t like the drone attacks. But what is their thinking on using THIS as a supposed tool to get us to stop (as opposed to other methods, including, say, negotiation)? I suppose I can see how this might sway some of our public into wanting to stop these attacks (since I believe polio would mostly affect children), but it’s going to cause their own people to suffer a hell of a lot more than the drone attacks, and the target would be those children. Won’t this turn the locals against them? Or are the drone attacks so devastating to the regular population of Pakistan that they (the non-Taliban populace) willing to put their kids at risk for a horrible disease on the off chance it will garner sufficient traction in the US to pressure the President to stop our drone attack programs??


Yeah, that’s all sorts of fucked up. But then again, the Taliban is exactly the sort of group that would think holding their own population’s children hostage was a valid negotiating tactic. I can’t imagine that the population at large would trade widespread polio for a cessation of drone attacks, but it’s hard to know for sure.

The only thing I can get out of it is that they (the Taliban leadership) are actually pretty scared of the drone strikes, and this is the best thing they could think of to make them stop. Add in the fact that they don’t really like western doctors in the region anyways, and it almost makes sense.

Probably a reaction to the actions of Shakil Afridi

If vaccination programs are used as cover for intelligence gathering operations or identifying targets then it could make more sense. In fact the same conclusion was reached by a number of NGOs who are attempting to provide humanitarian services in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Frankly I can understand that thinking myself.


Yeah, using medical professionals as informants for the CIA is extremely short-sighted. Killing OBL was nice, but that type of mistrust of the international medical community can be very long-lasting. Whoever let that part of the operation slip (and the person that decided to use it in the first place) will likely have a lot of blood on their hands over the years.

Simple they target kids. If we dont do what they ask, they blame kids death and disease on the US marketing more hate.

Its called “Terrorism”

Erm, cite that the Taliban are opposed to misery and children suffering? :wink: Anyway, yes, it’s a response to the use of a doctor in the bin Laden raid and it’s a hostage tactic. They don’t mind people resenting them as long as they’re too terrorized to do anything about it.

Who’s to say the people will resent them? Hell, even in the U.S. people can be convinced that vaccination is a sinister plot against their children just by some former model appearing on Oprah. How much easier would it be to convince people who’ve had so many fewer opportunities to be educated?

They will when their kids get polio. What’s happened in the U.S. is that a lot of people don’t remember the diseases that have been wiped out. Anyway: one of the constants about fundamentalist Islamic terrorists is that they’ve always been much better at hurting Muslims than at hurting anybody else. So from that standpoint, the Taliban standing up against polio vaccines is not surprising. This is probably a bin Laden raid thing in part, but in part it’s just the Taliban using any weapon (or hostage) it can.

Are they even going to blame the Taliban though, or will they blame the US for not giving in? I wouldn’t be surprised if it were the latter. Plenty of Afghans seem to prefer the Taliban to Americans, even if the Taliban kill more of them. Propaganda beats facts and the Taliban seem to be good at that.

There seem to be suicide attacks on Muslims by Islamic terrorists nearly every day. Sometimes I wonder, when they blow up an Iraqi marketplace or something, if they’ve forgotten the whole point of their terrorism and are just thinking “If I blow someone up I get to go to heaven”.

I think if someone kills your local doctor or keeps destroying the local supply of polio vaccine, you’ll probably blame them. Saying “we had to steal your vaccine because the Americans won’t stop killing our leaders” is all well and good, but I don’t think a whole lot of people are going to buy it.

They’re thinking that Shia are almost as bad as the Americans and they’re much easier to get to.

The Taliban appears to be attempting this clever ploy. (You tube link, not safe for work)

I’m wondering how widespread have vaccinations been to date, and do locals actually believe they’re effective?

If there’s not been a sufficiently substantial drop in local infection rates already, areas with poor education could easily be convinced the vaccine doesn’t do anything anyway. They’re hardly going to blame the Taliban for kids continuing to get polio if kids never stopped getting polio, and no-one seriously thought they would…

That’ll only work in an area with appalling education and little contact with outsiders who know the situation elsewhere, but that situation sounds kinds of familiar…

Thinking about it, what else can the Taliban actually control that the US will give a damn about at the moment? I don’t think their reason needs to make more sense than that at this point, and if there is already a fear of fake doctors around…

The article in the OP says Pakistan is one of the last places on Earth where polio is a major problem. If 200 people had it last year, I’m betting the number used to be higher and that enough people can put two and two together. UNICEF was not going in there unilaterally to start giving vaccinations either. Someone had to agree they could come in.

The drone attacks have been highly successful, this is nothing but a panic move.

Maybe the Taliban has simply become concerned with autism rates.

Sorry, someone had to say it.

I know! Let’s send Jenny McCarthy over to talk to them!

Actually, it’s not just their own children they’re holding hostage. It’s the entire global polio eradication effort. Afghanistan and Pakistan are among the only three remaining countries (Nigeria’s the third) where polio transmission has never been halted. The worldwide program to eradicate polio has been on since 1990 (IIRC), has cost many billions of dollars, and polio is finally on the verge of going the small pox way. Except of course, for assholes like this guy in Pakistan.
The danger is there’s a very real chance of re-importation of polio into countries which have eradicated it and then dialed down the vaccination. China for instance, recently had an outbreak that was traced back to Pakistan. And this isn’t even taking into account the fact that the entire world has to keep spending money on polio vaccines until it is eradicated from Af, Pak and Nigeria.

To see this as purely, or even largely, caused by the Shakeel Afridi sentencing would be inaccurate, IMO. Certain muslim communities(including some in Pakistan and Afghanistan) have long had conspiracy theories regarding the purpose of the polio vaccine, viz. that the vaccine is a Zionist/American/Hindu plot to ensure muslims don’t have any more babby and are wiped off the planet. India’s only just managed to halt transmission of polio, even though it had halted transmission in all but two districts(out of roughly 600) more than 5-6 years ago. These two districts were both prey to the CTs. Eventually polio workers had to take the local imam along on their vaccination rounds to be effective. So the crazy regarding polio was well in place before this latest incident.

And the ironic thing is that the very people administering the vaccine are pretty much the most able and willing to provide medical care FOR those Muslim communities.

The people who wish all Muslims were dead would never travel to those countries, except maybe to kill people. Even then, their aversion to Muslims would probably keep them out.


:confused: Well uh maybe except for the case that was already cited in this thread involving folks pretending to be medical workers in order to secretly DNA-test locals. I mean, that wasn’t exactly driven by a desire to ensure that Pakistanis receive great medical care. Just sayin’.

Would you like to have OBL living next door? Or for a more relevant question, how about Eric Robert Rudolph? I fail to see the harm that was caused.

Of course, most Pakistanis probably know jack about DNA testing, and assume that it’s somehow harmful or done with harmful intent.