Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Wednesday said the armed forces ensures the nation that it would guard the border between people and COVID-19.
General Bajwa, after attending, a special briefing at the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), maintained that the Pakistan Army, being part of national effort, would not leave any stone unturned for security and safety of the people of Pakistan. “Troops on ground must reach out to citizens in every nook and corner of Pakistan not only to protect them against this pandemic but also for bringing comfort in this hour of distress,” the COAS said.
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Minister for Planning Asad Umar, who is also focal person for national effort for COVID-19, Interior Minister Brig (retd)Ijaz Ahmed Shah, Minister for Revenue Muhammad Hammad Azhar, Minister for Communication Murad Saeed, Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan, Minister for Food Security and Research Khusro Bakhtiar, Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Zaidi, Special Assistant to PM on Finance and Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, SAPM on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, Special Assistant on Health Dr Zafar Mirza, SAPM on National Security Moeed Yousaf, SAPM on Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Sania Nishtar and senior military officials attended the briefing.
Pak Army troops deployed across the country
Pakistan on March 24, authorised the army troops to deploy across the country and in the capital Islamabad in a bid to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The interior ministry announcement, which came as the death toll from coronavirus rose to six, means troops will be able to assist the civilian government with logistics and in providing supplies, if needed.
It also means troops could, if called on, help enforce any eventual curfews as the crisis worsens — as observers fear it will in a country with large illiterate populations in crowded urban centres where many people are ignoring guidelines on “social distancing”.
Since Pakistan’s birth in 1947, the military has exercised direct rule for about half of the country’s history, most recently under General Pervez Musharraf who seized power in 1999 for a period of nearly a decade.
Pakistan’s constitution allows the civilian government to call for military aid in case of disasters and natural calamities, such as in the aftermath of a 2005 earthquake that killed more than 73,000 people.