Rotarians meet Taliban supporter of Afghan polio immunization drive

  • On the eve of Afghanistan’s 19-21 October National Immunization Days, Stephen Brown, past governor of District 5340 (California, USA), had an extraordinary opportunity to witness the country’s drive to end polio in action.
  • Brown and Fary Moini, a fellow member of the Rotary Club of La Jolla Golden Triangle, were in Afghanistan to help develop Rotary humanitarian and educational projects.
  • They were invited by Dr. Ajmal Pardis, chair of the country’s National PolioPlus Committee and a member of the Rotary Club of Jalalabad, to attend a 15 October meeting of Islamic leaders, or mullahs, in Jalalabad.
  • The meeting emphasized the importance of the polio eradication initiative and linked immunization against the disease to the duties of parents to protect their children, as explained in the Quran.
  • “The most interesting speech, to us, was from a powerful Taliban mullah, Imam Abdul Wakil, who talked very passionately about the importance of this effort,” Brown reported in his online journal.
  • “He was clearly very well spoken, and everyone was on the edge of their seats listening to him.
  • There were about 40 mullahs present, about 30 elders, about 10 students from the Taliban madras [Islamic] school, and local and national media.”

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