Your Next Pakistani Doctor Could Be A CIA Agent

Pakalert July 20, 2011 0

The American spy agency reaches a new level of meddling in Pakistan. Pakistani officials and NGOs are silent as American and international healthcare professionals condemn CIA action.




ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—The CIA has added another feather to its Pakistan cap. It has turned public health workers distributing free vaccines into American spies in the eyes of ordinary Pakistanis.


The agency’s other successes in Pakistan already include infiltrating Pakistan’s power circles, setting up spy networks inside the country and organizing anti-Pakistan activities from the Afghan soil.


The scandal involves CIA creating a fake immunization program in Pakistan’s Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. It represents a dangerous escalation in the agency’s covert activities in the country.


It proves the CIA is ready to get innocent Pakistanis killed; and that the agency has the green light to act with impunity here.


The CIA has already endangered the lives of American diplomats and journalists based in Pakistan by using their identities for spying.


Covert American agents inside Pakistan hired a doctor with a tainted record, Dr. Shakil Afridi, and fake public health volunteers to distribute what possibly were fake hepatitis vaccines as part of the effort to find Osama bin Laden.


This is the latest indication of how much access Pakistan’s ruling elite has allowed CIA inside Pakistan. In 2009, Pakistani police busted CIA contractors, facilitated by former US ambassador Anne W. Patterson, training a militia of 200 to 400 retired Pakistani military officers at a private property on the outskirts of the Pakistani capital.


The incident qualifies as one of the most dangerous breaches of Pakistani security and a sad testament on the country’s deteriorating security situation since 2002.




Abdicating its responsibility for protecting the lives and interests of Pakistani citizens, no official from the federal government or the provincial government of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa has bothered to say a word on the brewing scandal.


US- and EU-funded NGOs working in the health sector are also keeping away for fear of upsetting their donors. The small but noisy band of pro-US commentators and media spokespeople cultivated by the US embassy in Islamabad are also silent on this reckless endangerment of the lives of Pakistani citizens.


It is a moment of shame for Pakistanis that foreigners are taking up this scandal while Pakistan’s pro-US ruling elite maintains silence.


Two American health professionals, Dr. Orin Levine and Lauri Garrett, have chided the CIA and US government for hijacking an immunization program in Pakistan. Doctors Without Borders have also condemned the CIA action, aside from a number of other international groups.




Thanks to the CIA station office in Islamabad, the security of public health workers in Pakistan stands ruined.


Britain’s the Guardian reported last week that the CIA had staged a vaccination campaign in Abbottabad in an attempt to confirm Osama bin Laden’s location by obtaining DNA from his family members.


The effort involved hiring a Pakistani doctor who in turn hired many male and female ‘public health workers’ who roamed the area administering free hepatitis vaccines.


The federal and provincial Pakistani governments use this method to eradicate hepatitis and polio diseases in the country’s rural parts. The CIA essentially created a fake public health drive and presented it to Pakistanis as sponsored by the Pakistani federal health ministry.


When the program started a few years ago, suspecting locals beat some of the public health workers. The Pakistani government spent millions of dollars to overcome this obstacle.


The residents of Abbottabad and the surrounding areas are already in shock knowing that the health workers they received were CIA agents and the vaccines they administered were probably fake.


Two eminent health professionals in the United States came out on the pages of the Washington Post over the weekend to condemn what they have described as “CIA’s reckless tactics” and warned they “could have catastrophic consequences.”


Dr. Orin Levine, executive director of the International Vaccine Access Center and an associate professor of international health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, andLaurie Garrett, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of “Betrayal of Trust: The Collapse of Global Public Health”, published an op-ed where they explained the reckless attitude of CIA in faking an immunization program in Pakistan.


Here are excerpts:


“The CIA’s plot — recruiting a Pakistani doctor to distribute hepatitis vaccines in Abbottabad this spring — destroyed credibility that wasn’t its to erode. It was the very trust that communities worldwide have in immunization programs that made vaccinations an appealing ruse. But intelligence officials imprudently burned bridges that took years for health workers to build.”


“… the CIA’s actions may have jeopardized the global polio eradication program, which has saved thousands of lives and in which billions of dollars have been invested. Americans could one day be at risk again from re-imported polio.”


“Complicating matters is the fact that Pakistan recently dissolved its Ministry of Health, which has left international programs to negotiate directly with local leaders. Many such leaders may be inclined to distrust doctors or to believe that vaccination programs are CIA ploys designed to hurt their communities.”


“In Afghanistan, where colleagues of ours are helping to rebuild the national health system, locals often link trust in health services with security — in other words, they trust clinics because they believe they are safe places. But health workers there and in Pakistan may now be suspect or seen as spies. People throughout the region may reject vaccines out of politically derived fear.”


“Obama and leaders in Congress should acknowledge the damage to global health efforts and commit to repairing the trust. They should begin where the need is most urgent: Pakistan. They should make clear to regional leaders that despite cuts in foreign aid and U.S. support for the Pakistani military, Americans will not walk away from their region’s poor, their needy children, or commitments to stopping the spread of deadly diseases.”


Despite more than a week on the revelations in the Guardian newspaper, Pakistani politicians, government officials and health professionals are silent on a criminal act that has exposed the fragility of the Pakistani State.

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