ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Army on Saturday announced completion of deployment of troops across the country for assisting civilian authorities in containing the spread of Covid-19 with a major focus on managing 182 quarantine facilities.
“Pakistan Army troops deployed across the country in aid of civil power under Article 245,” Inter-Services Public Relations, the military’s public affairs wing, said in a statement.
The deployment was approved by Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa last Monday (March 23) on the request of the interior ministry. The government had asked for deployment of troops in all four provinces, Islamabad, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir under Article 245 (functions of the armed forces) of the Constitution and Section 131(A) (power to use military force for public security and maintenance of law and order) of the CrPC.
The army’s statement did not mention the number of troops deployed for the anti-coronavirus operation. However, military spokesman Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar had on Monday said that “available troops” and all medical resources would be deployed as per requirement. The army, while committing troops for the anti-Covid-19 effort, had to take into account the situation at the Line of Control and Working Boundary, where India was maintaining an aggressive posture and regularly committing ceasefire violations; and on the border with Afghanistan.
Military observers believe that troops already allocated for internal security have been re-appropriated for this task without significantly disturbing the deployments on the tense eastern and western borders.
The role to be performed by the troops was once again defined in the ISPR statement, according to which there were assisting federal and provincial governments in enforcement of the measures for containment of Covid-19. The troops are also helping in contact tracking, identification and isolation of suspected cases and the management of 182 quarantine facilities that have been set up across the country.
ISPR said: “All points of entries (POE) were being manned and monitored, joint check posts have been established and joint patrolling was being undertaken along with other Law Enforcement Agencies”.
AJK: The deployment in Azad Kashmir has been done in various parts of Kotli, Bhimber, Mirpur, Barnala, Muzaffarabad, Bagh, Kel and Rawalakot.
Balochistan: Troops have been deployed in nine districts of Balochistan, including Awaran, Dukki, Chaghi, Lasbela, Kalat, Naushki, Khuzdar, Sibbi and Gwadar. Besides enforcing restriction on movement of traffic between various towns and cities, the major focus of the military deployment in the province has been on beefing up quarantine facilities at the Taftan border crossing with Iran and Chaman border crossing with Afghanistan.
“Army troops, doctors and paramedics assisting civil administration in managing Taftan Quarantine facility. An additional container based Quarantine facility for 600 individuals is being established at Taftan,” ISPR said.
Gilgit-Baltistan: Troops have been deployed in all 10 districts of GB for assisting civil administration with enforcement measures, screening and testing of patients.
“Pakistan army helicopters flew special sorties through Khunjrab pass for transporting and distribution of medical equipment received from China including 5 Ventilators, 2000 testing kits, 2000 medical suits, 2000 N-95 Masks & 0.2 Million Face Masks on 27th March,” ISPR said.
Islamabad: In the federal capital the deployed troops, ISPR said, were manning joint check posts on entry/exit points, and undertaking joint patrolling with police, besides isolation of localities from where Covid-19 cases were being reported.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: Deployment has been done in 26 districts of KP. Troops were manning four border terminals and inter provincial boundary at Drazinda.
“Army troops assisting civil administration for management of Quarantine camps at Drazinda, Gomal University, DI Khan, Post Graduate Paramedic Institutes Peshawar,” ISPR said, adding a quarantine facility for 1,500 individuals was being established in Landi Kotal and Jamrud.
The troops were, moreover, enforcing isolation of 10 neighbourhoods in Peshawar, Mardan, Charsadda and Bunner from where Covid-19 cases were reported.
Punjab: Army troops have been deployed in 34 districts of Punjab where they were manning joint check posts established on entry/exit points in addition to patrolling with police for enforcement of Covid-19 containment measures.
The health authorities in the province were being assisted by the troops in managing quarantine facilities established in D.G. Khan, Multan, Faisalabad and Lahore Expo Centre. Moreover, the troops were engaged in disinfection campaign at various public places, including airports and train platforms.
Sindh: Troops have been deployed in 29 districts of Sindh. Pakistan Rangers, Sindh, were deployed at all entry/exit points along with police.
Meanwhile, army troops, Pakistan Rangers and police were jointly conducting patrols to enforce containment measures.
“Troops assisting civil administration for management of quarantine facilities at Sukkur and Karachi Expo Centre,” ISPR said.
Published in Dawn, March 29th, 2020