Virus an enemy unknown: ISPR

-Pakistan Army deployed countrywide to aid civil administration in battle against COVID-19
-COAS issues troops deployment ‘as per need’

Staff Report

RAWALPINDI: Director General of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Babar Iftikhar on Monday said Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa has issued directives for the deployment of all available troops “as per need” across the country to help combat the coronavirus.
Today, Pakistan is faced with a grave challenge of COVID-19 like the rest of the world, he said while speaking at a press conference. Even developed countries seem helpless in the face of this plague, he added.
In yesterday’s special Corps Commanders Conference, he detailed, the top army brass reviewed an action plan to tackle the virus crisis as the Government of Pakistan sought the armed forces’ deployment in aid of civil administration under Article 245 of the country’s Constitution.
Gen Iftikhar said all schools, marriage lawns, shopping malls, cinema halls, etc will remain shut, adding inter-city transport will be utilised for provision of essential food items. “This is the time to take tough decisions on an individual and collective basis.” he said.
“United, the nation can emerge from the pandemic”
The DG ISPR said the coronavirus presents a danger likes of which were never seen by anyone in their lives.
He appealed to the countrymen to stay indoor to protect themselves and their loved ones from the disease.
COAS will donate his one month’s salary in the fight against coronavirus, the DG ISPR announced. The government on Monday called in the Pakistan Army troops to help curb the spread of the novel coronavirus across the country. The military will be deployed throughout the country as the coronavirus cases surpassed 800 with six reported deaths. “The Competent Authority, in exercise of the powers conferred under Article 245 of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan and Section I31-A of CrPC is pleased to authorize deployment of sufficient

strength of troops of Pakistan Army in Punjab province depending upon the requirement to be worked out by the provincial Government in liaison with the Army authorities in connection with the prevailing situation related to the spread of COVID-19 and matters ancillary thereto, subject to laws enforced in Pakistan,” read the notification for Punjab.Similar notifications were issued for Sindh, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. The notification comes at a time when the number of affected cases in the country have soared past 800 and six have succumbed to the infection in Pakistan.
The Government of Sindh imposed a province-wide lockdown on Sunday and the Punjab government decided to take important decisions to encourage social distancing and self-quarantine.
The lockdown in Sindh has been imposed for 15 days. In Punjab, the chief minister has ordered closure of all unnecessary shops and banned pillion riding. Section 144 has been imposed in the province which will continue for 14 days. CM Buzdar had said that grocery stores, fruit markets, bakeries and meat shops will not be subject to the lockdown’s conditions.
However, he had clarified that the province was not undergoing a lockdown neither a curfew. “I want to make it clear to you that this is neither a curfew nor a lockdown situation,” he had said. “We are bringing a little changing [in the situation],” he added. The chief minister had announced that all non-essential shops and services will be closed as the Punjab government takes precautionary measures to ensure the virus does not spread. Coronavirus is a danger Pakistan has never encountered before, Director-General of the Inter-Services Public Relations Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar said Monday, as the country’s tally shot to nearly 900.
Addressing a press conference here in the city and wishing citizens on the Pakistan Resolution Day, Maj Gen Iftikhar said he wished to apprise the country’s citizens of the military’s efforts in the war against COVID-19, which has so far infected 882 people and left at least six people dead. The borders had been closed as a preventive measure but “the actual border is between the man and the coronavirus, which we have yet to take control of”, he said.
“This will only be possible through self-discipline and cooperation. The best defense against the coronovirus is cooperation,” he said, adding that Pakistan was facing a serious challenge and that only with the people’s belief in the state could this problem be resolved. “Pakistan Army is well aware of its responsibility and will bring all of its resources to use,” he said, assuring the citizens that the Army was standing alongside its countrypeople.
“Yesterday [Sunday] evening, in a special corps commanders conference to deal with coronavirus, Pakistan Army’s aid to civil institutions and its plan of action was reviewed,” the military’s spokesperson said. “Despite Army personnel being deployed at the Line of Control (LoC) and the western border in a huge number, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Javed Qamar Bajwa has directed that all available soldiers and the Army’s medical resources be deployed to tackle the coronavirus,” he noted. “The government of Pakistan has summoned the Pakistan Army under Article 245 in aid of civil power,” he added.
“According to the notification issued by the federal and provincial governments, only hospitals, shops selling food items, medical stores, and food and medicine manufacturing industries would only remain open, while schools shall remain closed,” he added. Maj Gen Iftikhar stressed that the petrol pumps and markets would remain open only according to the timings issued by the respective provincial governments.