The anti-polio drive was to begin in some areas of the Rawalpindi district, the entire Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) and parts of Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan, media reported.

The total number of polio cases detected in Pakistan has escalated to 297.The country is just three cases away from breaking the record of 1998 in which 300 cases were reported.

The target of the Short Internal Activity Days (SIAD) campaign, which had to be held in the high-risk union councils of 54 districts, was to vaccinate 8.5 million children.

However, the targeted children would now be covered in the National Immunisation Days (NIDs) campaign from January 19. An official of the National Health Services (NHS) said holding polio campaigns with short intervals was necessary to eradicate the crippling disease.

"Unfortunately, since the terror attack on the Army Public School Peshawar on December 16, the whole country has been facing severe security threats. Not only educational institutions have been closed but also security in most of the cities has been put on high alert," the official said.

The Prime Minister's Polio Cell decided to cancel the campaign, claiming that it wanted more time for the preparations. The official said the provincial teams had been advised to give more attention on the preparations, pre-campaign monitoring and improving the readiness status of the nationwide polio campaign planned from January 19-21.

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