Hussain said Islam is a religion of peace and advocates the protection of human lives. Those involved in killing polio vaccinators are misled elements, he said.

The President, who attended a briefing on polio here, was informed by officials that militancy has affected the polio eradication campaign in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and polio cases were on the rise there.

The anti-polio campaign has been hit since the Taliban banned vaccinations in the lawless tribal belt in June 2012, saying the restriction would last till the US stops drone strikes.

Militants and gunmen frequently attack vaccination teams, accusing them of being Western spies and part of a plot to ‘sterilize’ Muslims. Dozens have died in these attacks.

Pakistan is one of only three countries where polio is endemic.

Addressing a tribal jirga or council‚ the President asked people of the tribal areas to extend whole-hearted cooperation to government efforts to eradicate polio.

He regretted that 60 out of 85 cases of polio in the country are reported from the tribal belt, which is a cause for concern.

Hussain paid tributes to people of the tribal areas for their contribution in addressing the challenge of terrorism and offering immense sacrifices.

The President asked the state-run gas utility to prepare a proposal for providing gas to all parts of the tribal belt. He also asked the Overseas Pakistanis Foundation to establish quality educational institutions in the region.

(Agencies)

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