ISLAMABAD: Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa on Tuesday directed his commanders to assist the civilian administration in uninterrupted supply of essential items to remote regions.
Chairing the 231st Corps Commanders’ Conference, the army chief, according to the ISPR, asked the commanders to “extend maximum assistance in moving critical resources and reaching out to mitigate suffering of people in far-flung areas including GB, AJ&K, Interior Sindh and Balochistan”.
The corps commanders participated in the conference through a video link from their respective corps headquarters. The conference extensively discussed the situation in the country due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Maintaining supply of basic food items and medical equipment has emerged as one of the major challenges in the ongoing Covid-19 crisis.
The army chief in a statement before the conference reminded that even the “most advanced nations/ governments are finding it extremely difficult to fight this pandemic”. He assured that the government was striving hard to acquire and supply the required resources. “In this hour of distress we must remain patient and steadfast,” he added.
Prime Minister Imran Khan, during his visit to the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) for Covid-19 last Friday, had also stressed the need for uninterrupted supply of essential items during the countrywide preventive restrictions on movement of people and transport because of the pandemic. “There must be no compromise on availability of essential food items and sustainability of supply lines throughout the country,” Mr Khan had said back then.
A source, while talking separately to Dawn about the availability of essential commodities, said that while there was presently no shortage of basic food items (wheat flour, cooking oil/ghee, pulses and sugar), there was, however, a need to keep an eye on the availability of flour.
Meanwhile, he said that there were sufficient stocks of fuel in the country. However, logistics for continuing their uninterrupted supplies to far-off areas like Gilgit-Baltistan, border areas of Balochistan, interior Sindh and Azad Jammu and Kashmir was proving to be challenging.
The other major priority is the provision of medical supplies and protective gear for the doctors and paramedics. The ISPR had earlier in the day tweeted that “emergency supplies of medical equipment including PPEs [are] being dispatched to Quetta on orders of COAS to help medical staff fight Covid-19 effectively in Balochistan”.
The source said that a detailed plan for maintaining the supply chain of critical goods would be deliberated by the NCOC on Wednesday for preparing recommendations for the National Coordination Committee, the main government body overseeing the activities related to managing the Covid-19 crisis.
“Every citizen counts as we strive to scale this calamity. Being a nation with vibrant youth and resilient people ready to share & sacrifice, we will emerge stronger from this challenge, Inshaallah,” Gen Bajwa said at the conference.
The participants of the conference praised the doctors, paramedics and other health workers as the country’s “frontline” in the fight against Covid-19 under a “challenging environment”.
The military top brass also paid tribute to the Kashmiri people who are fighting the pandemic under Indian atrocities and struggling for their just cause of self-determination.
Published in Dawn, April 8th, 2020