By Qudsia Farhat
Enamoured by Chanakyan dictums of employing guile and deceit as weapons of diplomacy, India has now turned upon the dreaded virus of polio to coerce Pakistan. After Indian secret service RAW had infiltrated Pakistan’s tribal areas and other sensitive zones with its agents to browbeat polio workers, India achieved its target of infecting polio amongst the children of the region. Under a gruesome and heinous stratagem, miscreants were launched to target Pakistan’s anti-polio drive. The heinous plan comprised a two prong strategy. Firstly, pseudo religious leaders spread a disinformation campaign to mislead the people that the anti-polio campaign of administering polio drops to the children was a malicious conspiracy to eliminate future generations by making them impotent. It was construed that the so called polio drops would cause the children to become impotent and lose their capacity to bear or sire children. Gullible people swallowed the lie and started avoiding the administration of the anti-polio drops to their children. Once this fear was dispelled through a concerted campaign by the government then RAW hatched another macabre plot. Terrorists started targeting polio health workers, who were going door to door to ensure that every child received the polio drops. These gory assaults instilled fear in the hearts of the health workers, who started shying away from the anti-polio campaign, as they feared for their safety and lives.
Resultantly, polio started spreading among the children in Pakistan. Despite efforts by the government, Pakistan reported 85 confirmed cases of polio during 2013, raising concerns about the fight against the disease. Thence came the diplomatic assault to tighten the screw on Pakistan. India declared that all persons – adults and children – traveling to India from Pakistan are required to obtain an Oral Polio Vaccination (OPV) certification at least six weeks prior to their departure to India, but not more than one year before such departure.
It is a very callous approach, where other countries are enhancing people to people contact amongst neighbours to improve fraternal ties, India is hell bent upon driving wedges between the people. Indian High Commission in Islamabad has issued the edict that travelers from Pakistan, even Indian nationals on visit to Pakistan, would be required to carry their vaccination record as evidence of polio vaccination upon entry into India. It has been highlighted that record for administering OPV can be obtained from an authorized medical centre in the format laid out in the World Health Organization’s International Health Regulations 2005 International Certification of Vaccination. The format of the certificate required is also available on the website of the High Commission of India. The Indian mission has taken steps to explain that the diktat has been issued to safeguard India’s polio-free status attained after sustained after efforts and large investment. It further clarified that the measure was applicable to all travelers from all such countries where polio is endemic or where cases of polio are reported.
India has thus become the first country to make such a demand despite the countless efforts of the current dispensation ruling Islamabad to have made strong and visible overtures of establishing friendly relations with India. Unfortunately, the government of India is not at all eager to respond to the friendly gestures of Pakistan and has spurned every effort for peace by Pakistan.
Statistics indicate that Indian citizens suffer from HIV/Aids and the transmittable disease is prevalent in India to the extent that India is registered as the largest HIV/Aids virus affected country in the world.
Pakistan can reciprocate in kind by insisting that any Indian desirous of visiting Pakistan must produce documentation of being free of the dreaded disease of HIV/Aids. However, Pakistan, which is inhabited by humane citizens and a government, which lacks the guile and crafty maneuvers of Chanakya, will not stoop so low. Pakistan believes in the policy of “live and let live” and is also a proponent of good relations with all its neighbours, thus it has extended the olive branch to all its neighbours.
India should learn from the experience of the European Union (EU), where the borders are open and EU citizens can cross over to the other neighbours without visa or travel documents. Such a practice has not only averted hostility among neighbours, but also enhanced camaraderie and support for each other, thus making the EU cognizant of each other’s problems and being a source of support for each other.
India on the other hand, has serious issues with each of its neighbours, whether big or small. Every neighbour of India, including Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal and Pakistan, have suffered from Indian hegemony and intrigues of intrusion in the internal affairs of others. India suffers from megalomania and an illusion of grandeur. It is amassing weapons of mass destruction and acquire a force, which will enable it to become a world power and browbeat its neighbours into submission. Such a policy of expansionism makes India a dominating estate. The outstanding issues with all its neighbours, whether they pertain to division of water resources or stem from border disputes or other problems, make it at loggerheads with all and sundry. Unfortunately, because of its size and geo-strategic location, India is wooed by the occident. It huge landmass and teeming millions, make it an attractive market for the products of the western countries. Thus the west tends to look the other way, whenever India tries to bully its neighbours. Take the case of Indian illegal occupation of Kashmir. This is a severe human rights abuse issue in direct contravention to UN Resolutions. More than 100,000 precious human lives have been lost because of the tyrannical and brutal use of force to crush the Kashmiri freedom movement. Thousands of Kashmiri women have been raped and youth either slaughtered or forced to suffer incarceration on trumped up charges, but the west fails to chastise India for these excesses.
If India continues to use polio as a weapon of coercive diplomacy, it must be chastised and taken to task by international human rights institutions.