Via Dawn.com: Govt in a fix after attacks on polio teams in ‘safer’ areas. Excerpt:
Karachi: Persistent problems with law and order in the city have made it extremely difficult for the police to assign more than half of its personnel to safeguard highly-vulnerable polio workers during major vaccination campaigns forcing authorities to consider other options to accomplish the task with maximum available security, it emerged on Sunday.
The attack that killed three polio workers and injured another on Tuesday forced the authorities to call off the nationwide anti-polio campaign.
On the other hand, the campaign has been completed across the country barring the nation’s biggest metropolis and economic engine — Karachi, sources said.
Since that attack has been reported from a locality bracketed with the ‘safer’ neighbourhoods by the authorities, it has become more problematic for the authorities to ensure security for polio teams.
“It has become too difficult to categorise the localities as safer and sensitive after that incident,” said a senior official indicating the past violent incidents, which had mainly been reported from the areas which they had already classified among the violence-prone neighbourhoods, did not coerce them to go for a change of plan.
The authorities have compiled lists of localities on their historical background and demographic conditions.
The official said the Qayyumabad incident had put them in a fix with the increasing pressure from poorly-paid volunteers demanding sufficient security before proceeding to the field.
Officials said Qayyumabad was not an isolated area and they had permitted the volunteers to go without police escort.
The volunteers went to many ‘safer’ localities on their own because of a history of those clusters being peaceful.
“There are more than 6,500 polio teams who take to streets in a major drive,” said a security official adding that it was “next to impossible” to guard every team for the police, whose capacity had stretched to their limit.
“Out of fewer than 30,000-police force in Karachi, half of them could be there to control the law and order in the city at a given time, which makes it highly difficult to protect the polio teams as well,” he said.
The authorities, as per standard they have set, provide two policemen to a single polio team, thus a fully fledged drive needs to have more than 13,000 policemen to be associated with polio teams for three days at least until it concluded as per schedule.
“It is highly difficult. In fact, not possible at all,” said the official.