by Jawahir, June 18 2013

Two polio workers were shot in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan today, and yesterday we lost another polio eradication hero, Deputy Commissioner (DC) Quetta Abdul Mansoor Kakar in a terrorist attack. The sectarian attack targeted the only women's university in Balochistan and the emergency room of largest hospital in the province.

Following the launch of President's National Emergency Action Plan in 2011, Deputy Commissioners were designated as the chairperson of the District Polio Eradication Committee (DPEC) and held responsible for all polio eradication activities at the district level.

Deputy Commissioners were tasked to improve management, oversight, ownership, and accountability of all the polio eradication activities in the district. The first time I met Kakar was when he was working as DC in District Pishin, one of the worst affected districts during the 2011 polio outbreak. More than 15 children were paralyzed for life due to the virus outbreak that year.

This district was known globally for its management issues, paramedics' politics in polio eradication, and vaccine refusals. Pishin was called the highest risk district in the country by the Independent Monitoring Board. It was considered one of the most problematic regions of the world regarding polio; the situation was grim and challenging. Luckily, Pishin had the best commissioned officer of Pakistan as the district leader: Abdul Mansoor Kakar.

Kakar was enthusiastic, committed and had a clear understanding of technical and operational issues in Polio Eradication. He would stay up late to chair the district meetings held each evening during polio campaigns, always critical of the way his teams performed yet always hopeful.

He brought the tribal elders, religious leaders, and political parties together on one platform and urged them to play their role in eradication. Even with competing priorities, such as security and administrative issues, polio was always on the top of the list for him.

I remember in March 2012, Kakar held his son in his arms very late in the evening, in chilling wind, waiting for Maulana Attaur Rehman (brother of JUI [Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam] leader Maulana Fazal ur Rehman), who had strong influence on thousands of refusals in Pishin. He wanted to make a statement, telling a common man in Pishin that the vaccine is safe, safe enough to be given for his own son. District Pishin, led by Mansoor Kakar with his efficient and effective management, did not report any polio case in 2012 and is still polio-free.

I write this blog with a heavy heart, full of grief. I write to pay respect to a brave man, a man who was committed to a cause, an outstanding administrator and a thorough gentleman. Abdul Mansoor Kakar as Deputy Commissioner in Pishin, Quetta, and Khuzdar had done tremendous efforts for the success of the polio eradication initiative. It is due to people like him that, today, Balochistan has not reported a single case of polio for the past eleven months. Kakar, you will be missed, we will carry out your mission of a polio-free world, but you won't be here smiling as you always did.

"The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding, go out to meet it."

Disclaimer: (Views and opinions with this Blog represent my own and not those of people, institutions or organizations I am affiliated with unless stated explicitly. My Blog is not affiliated with (neither does it represent) the views, position or attitudes of my employer).