By Mathias Samuel
Prime Minister Imran Khan along with his Special Advisors who are experts in several different fields are working to plan how to address Caronavirus issues, how to send help to needy people, what kind of lockdown is needed and what to do actually?
The recently formed Coronava Relief Tigers Force would not be operational before April 20 according to the Head of the force Usman Dar. No date has been given by the government when this force would be operational.
Did Pakistan was left unguarded during the above-mentioned scenario? The answer is NO— The nation was instantly guarded by Pakistan Army in the same way it was guarded by Army during 2005 earthquake. Alas, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) was also late to respond due to reasons best known to the NDMA itself.
Pakistan Army under the leadership of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa did not leave the people of Pakistan waiting what to do and what not to do.
Pakistan Army troops have been deployed across the country in aid of civil power under article 245. Army troops are assisting the federal and provincial administrations in ensuring enforcement measures for containment of COVID-19 with focus on public safety. All Points of Entries (POE) are being manned & monitored, the establishment of Joint Check Posts and joint patrolling with other the Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) are being carried out effectively.
The contact tracking, tracing to identify & isolate suspected individuals are being done to ensure the containment of COVID-19 spread.
The army troops assisting in the management of Quarantine facilities. A total of 182 Quarantine facilities have been established across the Country.
Details of troops deployment are as under:
The army troops are assisting the civil administration for enforcement measures in various parts of Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK) including Kotli, Bhimber, Mirpur, Barnala, Muzaffarabad, Bagh, Kel & Rawalakot.
The troops have been deployed in nine districts in far-flung areas including Awaran, Dukki, Chaghi, Lasbela, Kalat, Naushki, Khuzdar, Sibbi and Gawadar.
The Chaman border has been closed for all types of move less food item vehicles.
The army troops, doctors and paramedics are assisting civil administration in managing the Taftan quarantine facility.
An additional container-based quarantine facility for 600 individuals is being established at Taftan. The tent-based quarantine facility with 805 tents with allied facilities as per best practices are being established at Chaman.
The army field medical battalion with specialist doctors and paramedics has been deployed at Chaman for management of Quarantine facility.
The Container-based Quarantine facility for 300 individuals being established at VIllage Killi Faizu, Chaman.
The army troops have been deployed in all 10 districts & far-flung areas to assist the civil administration for enforcement measures, screening & testing measures taken by the Gilgit-Baltistan government.
The Pakistan army helicopters flew special sorties through Khunjerab pass for transporting & distribution of medical equipment received from China including five ventilators, 2000 testing kits, 2000 medical suits, 2000 N95 masks & 0.2 million face masks on March 27.
The Joint Check Posts have been established on Entry/Exit Points of the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT).
The joint patrolling with police and isolation of suspected localities is being carried out.
The troops have been deployed in 26 districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Four border terminals and interprovincial boundaries are being manned & managed at Drazinda.
The army troops are assisting the civil administration for the management of quarantine camps at Drazinda, Gomal University, Dera Ismail Khan, Post Graduate Paramedic Institutes Peshawar.
A quarantine facility for 1500 individuals is being established at Landi Kotal & Jamrud.
The army troops & LEAs are ensuring the isolation of 10 residential areas of confirmed cases at Peshawar, Mardan, Charsadda & Buner.
Over 4000 suspected cases have been tracked and traced, and are being isolated to contain the spread of COVID-19.
The army troops deployed in 34 districts of the Punjab province.
The Joint Check Posts have been established on Entry/Exit Points. The patrolling with police for enforcement to measures taken by the provincial government.
The troops are assisting the civil administration in managing Dera Ghazi Khan, Multan, Faisalabad & Lahore Expo Centre quarantine/isolation facilities.
The disinfection campaign is underway of various public places including airports, train platforms, and other such public places.
The troops have been deployed in 29 districts of Sindh.
Pakistan Rangers Sindh along with Police have been deployed at all Entry/Exit Points.
The army troops/Pakistan Rangers & Police are patrolling to enforce measures taken for containment of COVID-19 by the provincial government.
The troops are assisting the civil administration for the management of quarantine facilities at Sukkur & Karachi Expo Centre.
In addition, in a bid to support national efforts in the fight against COVID-19, Scientists, Engineers and employees of National Command Authority (NCA) and Strategic Plans Division (SPD) contributed their salaries in COVID-19 Relief Fund as under:-
– Employees of Special Pay Scale 11-14 – 3 days
– Employees of Special Pay Scale 8-10 – 2 days
– Employees of Special Pay Scale 1-7 – 1 day
The Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC) General Nadeem Raza and the COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa contributed their one-month salaries in the COVID-19 Relief Fund.
Meanwhile, on April 1, in a Special Briefing at the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), the COAS said that all necessary measures to ensure public safety are being taken.
“We cannot afford to leave any segment of the society at the mercy of the Coronavirus (COVID) pandemic,” he said.
The COAS said that troops on the ground must reach out to citizens in every nook & corner of Pakistan not only to protect them against this pandemic but also for bringing comfort in this hour of distress.
The Army Chief said that only through a coherent national effort we can address all vulnerabilities before they turn into threats. He reiterated that the planned measures if implemented timely will contribute to the safety and wellbeing of every Pakistani and society at large.
“We must Rise – and rise together irrespective of caste, colour, creed, and religion fighting as One Nation. The task at hand is daunting, but we have overcome difficult situations before. This time the challenge is entirely different. Armed Forces will stand shoulder to shoulder with the nation to guard the border between people and COVID-19,” General Qamar Javed Bajwa said.
“Pakistan Army being part of the national effort will not leave any stone unturned for security and safety of people of Pakistan,” he concluded.
Earlier on March 22, the Army Chief presided over the Special Corps Commanders’ Conference which discussed single point agenda with regards to COVID-19. The Corps Commanders participated through video link from respective Corps Headquarters.
The forum reviewed the countrywide spread of COVID-19 and deliberated army’s readiness to assist civil administration to contain the pandemic.
It was noted that all available troops of Pakistan Army and it’s medical resources across the country had been tasked to be ready to assist activities in concert with the civil administration on short notice.
When Pakistan will a system under the civil administration to respond calamities like we are facing today? Only politicians can answer this question.