Home South Asia Pakistan Polio Cases Soar to 72 in 2019: Babar Bin Atta, Guilty or...

Polio Cases Soar to 72 in 2019: Babar Bin Atta, Guilty or Not?

Reports reveal that Babar Bin Atta, the former focal person on Polio, has been forced to give his resignation after reports of negligence, irregularities and embezzlement of funds. Atta has clarified his position on the matter, challenging those accusing him to present evidence of his misconduct.

Polio

Babar Bin Atta, former focal person to the Prime Minister on Polio, was forced to give his resignation after reports emerged of misuse of authority and corruption. Sources revealed that Chief Secretary KPK had submitted reports to Prime Minister Imran Khan, informing him of Atta’s misuse of his authority.

Upon this, he was summoned to the Prime Minister’s Office, and asked to hand over his resignation within 12 hours. He was informed that his familiar to submit a resignation within the allotted time would result in an unceremonious dismissal from his post. Social media is abuzz with allegations of his wrongdoings.

Embezzlement & Irregularities?

The social media reports claim that a lengthy report was compiled, outlining Babar Atta’s irregularities and misuse of his authority. The report stated that he had unfairly recruited his close friends on high-paying positions in the polio eradication programme.

It was added that Babar Atta was also bribing media houses for self-promotion and to filter any news portraying him negatively. He has been accused of paying millions of dollars from the Polio eradication fund to media houses.

The intelligence report also stated that Babar was blackmailing officers and even provincial ministers to obtain favors by invoking the Prime Minister’s name, and his popularity in the media.

 

Others sources, circulating on media, revealed that Babar was responsible for preparing baseless reports in polio cases, while the cases in Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan went largely neglected. He is accused of using the polio program for his own vested interests and commercial gains.

He is also accused of pressurizing the authorities for the appointments of his chosen DHOs. He had violated the code of merit in choosing his social media team, and many of his close friends were appointed to the social media team on highly well-paid salaries.

Read more: Facebook blocks 31 accounts for propagating against polio vaccination

More alarmingly, Babar Bin Atta is accused of illegally appointing the director communication of the anti-polio program, and he was also involved in lobbying with international donors for his vested interests.

He also blamed international donors for the failure of the polio eradication program, while three of the provinces were largely neglected by his team.

Opinion makers and analysts have taken to social media, expressing their anger over Atta’s actions, and the damage that has been done to Pakistan’s polio eradication mission. Twitteratis demand that Prime Minister Imran Khan take strict action against the former focal person on Polio, stressing that his dismissal is not sufficient as the damage of nepotism and inadequate polio prevention care cannot be reversed.

Guilty or Not?

Meanwhile, Babar Bin Atta maintains that his resignation was tendered due to “personal reasons” related to his family, and stressed that he is being accused falsely by “social media blackmailers”.

Taking to Twitter last week, Babar had announced his resignation. In a series of tweets, he said, “After a stint of over a year as the Prime Ministers Focal Person for Polio, I have asked the PM to relieve me of my duties because of some personal reasons pertaining to my family. During this time I got a chance to work with the best minds in the world.”

He continued, “When I look back, I am proud to say that I made all possible efforts to create that enabling environment where polio eradication is a top priority. A 24/7 call centre will soon be inaugurated to address all concerns of people who have questions related to the vaccine.”

The former focal person on polio added, “The countries first ever Perception Management Initiative will be rolled out by the end of this month and the effects of which will be a game changer I assure. I am leaving at a time when the low transmission season is about to commence.”

“Pakistan is in a position that will finally eradicate polio once and for all. The opportunity should be capitalized and should not be lost from here. I forever remain indebted to the love and respect all of you have offered. May Allah be our Guide and Protector.”

As the accusations took a more sinister turn on social media, Babar bin Atta decided to clarify his stance on the circulating allegations against him. He said, “I wanted to leave my job on a good note & focus on my family life but sadly Social media allegations against me have stooped down to a level where I am left with no other options but to knock FIA Cyber Crime & acquire legal support.”

Demanding the “social media blackmailers” to present evidence against him, Atta threatened legal action. He said, “These social media blackmailers have been quoting “sources” as a mean to throw dirty slurs at me. I hope these “sources” have some evidence against me because I have mine against you. See you under the attached clause!”

Many journalists and sympathizers have spoken in support of Babar bin Atta, confirming that he did indeed tender his resignation to be close to his “ailing father”.

Meanwhile, Former Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif alarmed the nation by sharing statistics of the sharp increase in polio cases within one year.

Read more: Rise of Polio cases: PM Khan to lead an anti-polio campaign himself

The PML-N President tweeted, “Alarmed at the increase in the polio cases to 76 this year. The number was around 10 cases in 2017/2018. We injected political will into the anti-polio drive, something manifestly absent now. How can the Govt be so insensitive to the future of our children?”

It appears that the former CM Punjab did not exaggerate the statistics. The statistics maintained by the Polio Eradication Initiative reveal that the total number of polio cases reported in 2017 was 8, and 12 in 2018. While in 2019, under the PTI-led government, the number of polio cases reported across the country increased to an alarming 72, with 53 cases reported by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa alone.

It is important to note that Pakistan remains one of the three countries in the world, alongside Afghanistan and Nigeria that continue to combat the scourge of polio. Analysts are leveling the blame on Babar Bin Atta, accusing him of negligence and demanding action against him.

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