The New York Times reports that, in an echo of last month’s tragedy, seven more aid workers in Pakistan have been killed by two armed gunmen while returning from work. It is widely believed that this attack and others like it have been perpetrated by the Pakistani Taliban, which has earned a reputation for attacks against aid workers. Those strikes may now be contributing to the spread of measles and other infectious diseases in northwestern Pakistan:
While Mr. Akhtar said that his organization had received no prior warning or threat, he and other Pakistani officials said they believed that the attack was part of the broader Pakistani Taliban campaign against aid workers.
Last month, at least nine Pakistani volunteers in an internationally supported polio vaccination drive were killed by militants across the country. Militant leaders have long accused such drives of being a cover for government and international espionage and have regularly threatened workers and officials involved in the effort, though never before to such deadly effect.
The campaign of intimidation and violence has been devastating for health campaigns that rely on a backbone of low-paid volunteers who go door-to-door with vaccines in some of the most remote and dangerous parts of Pakistan.
As we saw in December, these attacks have been condemned by the public, and numerous Pakistani Muslims have been extremely vocal in their opposition to the evil perpetrated in the name of their religion. But despite the outcry, Pakistan’s leaders have proven completely powerless to stop things like this from happening. It’s a sad tragedy in one of the world’s saddest countries, and far too many Pakistanis will end up paying for it with their lives.