ISLAMABAD: Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa on Wednesday called for national unity in the fight against Covid-19 as the Commander of Army’s Air Defence Command, Lt Gen Hamood Uz Zaman Khan, was designated as convener of the newly-established National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC).
“The Commander of Army Air Defence Command, Lieutenant General Hamood Uz Zaman Khan, has been designated as chief coordinator of NCOC,” ISPR said in a statement.
The decision to set up the NCOC was taken a few days ago at a meeting of the National Coordination Committee (NCC), the government’s lead agency in the anti-Covid-19 campaign. The NCOC would act as the implementation arm of the NCC.
One of NCOC’s key functions is to ensure effective coordination between federal and provincial governments in this national campaign against the pandemic.
The body would include representatives of various federal and provincial governmental agencies in addition to nominees of the military and intelligence agencies.
Lt Gen Hamood made convener of National Command and Operation Centre
“The NCOC is serving as a nucleus for one-window operation to synergise and articulate the national effort against Covid-19, optimise informed decision making and ensure implementation of decisions of the National Security Committee (NSC) and the National Coordination Committee (NCC),” the ISPR said about the role of the new body.
Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Zaidi while talking to Dawn said that the establishment of the NCOC was necessitated by the need for evidence-based decision-making for managing the crisis.
The NCOC hosted a special briefing on its premises at the old building of Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority. The meeting chaired by the government’s focal person for the national effort against Covid-19 Asad Umar was attended among others by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Interior Minister retired Brig Ijaz Ahmed Shah, Minister for Economic Affairs Hammad Azhar, Minister for Communications Murad Saeed, Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan, Minister for Food Security Khusro Bakhtiar, Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Zaidi, SAPM on Finance and Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, SAPM on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, SAPM for Health Dr Zafar Mirza, SAPM for National Security Mr Moeed Yousaf, SAPM on Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Ms Sania Nishtar.
Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa and senior military officials also took part in the session in which the participants were briefed about the deployment of troops across the country for assisting the civilian agencies and the status of the containment efforts and enforcement measures against Covid-19. The future course of action was also deliberated upon at the meeting.
Gen Bajwa on this occasion reminded about the complexity of the challenge and emphasised unity for success in this effort.
“We must rise — and rise together — irrespective of caste, colour, creed and religion fighting as one nation. The task at hand is daunting … we have overcome difficult situations before. This time the challenge is entirely different,” the army chief said.
His comments come in the backdrop of a divisive debate within the country about the source of the coronavirus infection in the country. There have been allegations that pilgrims returning from Iran were allowed to bypass quarantine requirements causing the infection to spread in the country. This led to apprehensions that the debate, which appeared to be having a sectarian tinge, could disturb the national harmony. Separately, fingers have been pointed at the Tableeghi Jamaat for its congregations in the country and abroad as the source of transmission of the virus in the country and abroad.
“Only through a coherent national effort we can address all vulnerabilities before they turn into threats,” he underscored.
He further said that the national effort was all-encompassing and no segment of society could be left out.
The COAS directed troops deployed for the anti-Covid-19 campaign to reach out to every citizen for protecting them from the disease and providing relief.
“The armed forces will stand shoulder to shoulder with the nation to guard the border between people and Covid-19,” he maintained.
“The planned measures, if implemented timely, will contribute to safety and well-being of every Pakistani and society at large,” the COAS further said.
Published in Dawn, April 2nd, 2020