PM Imran approves provinces’ request for army deployment amid COVID-19 outbreak

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan approved provincial governments’ requests seeking military in aid of civil power, Special Assistant to PM on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said on Monday.

The SAPM said that the prime minister has allowed the provincial governments to enforce ‘partial lockdown’ on a ‘need-base’ under Article 245-A of the Constitution of Pakistan.

“The option of partial lockdown is left upon provinces,” Awan said during a mwdia briefing held at PID, Islamabad.
She added that a notification in this regard will be issued after the federal cabinet approves the move.

Under Article 245-A (Functions of Armed Forces), “the Armed Forces shall, under the directions of the Federal Government, defend Pakistan against external aggression or threat of war, and, subject to law, act in aid of civil power when called upon to do so”.

Punjab and Balochistan joined Sindh in requesting the army’s help to contain the novel coronavirus outbreak in their respective provinces as majority of the country goes into lockdown.

At midnight March 23, Sindh went into a complete lockdown for 15-days to curb the growing rise in coronavirus infections. All offices and public gathering venues would remain closed during the lockdown in addition to shopping centres, schools, etc which have already been shut by the provincial government.

Citizens will not be allowed be leave their homes unnecessarily. Those stepping outside to buy groceries or other essential items will be allowed to do so once in two days.

To ensure this, they will be required to carry their computerised national identity cards with them. If their cards are checked by a law enforcement agency, their numbers will be entered in its database.

Health professionals and media personnel have been exempted from the ban. Government also instructed banks to reduce work hours but ensure ATMs remain open.

The Punjab government announced a lockdown till March 24 in wake of a surge in cases. The government chose to go digital adopting a work-from-home policy through Skype. It has also banned public gatherings, suspended entry to tourist points including Murree and restricted shopping malls to a 10:00pm deadline.

The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government also announced a lockdown as it shut down all markets, shopping malls and restaurants from Sunday 9:00am to March 24 owing to an escalation in the transmission of COVID-19. The government has also barred restaurants and eateries from takeaways, only allowing home delivery services.

It may be mentioned here that public gatherings and private ceremonies in houses and closed compounds are also banned while educational institutions remain closed.

The Balochistan government has imposed health emergency while also announcing the closure of all shopping malls, crowded markets and inter-provincial and inter-city public transport services for an initial period of three weeks.

On the same lines, the Gilgit-Baltistan government also took stringent measures and imposed Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code to discourage gathering of the people.

The Azad Kashmir government suspended the inter-state public transport for three days from Saturday under the health emergency imposed on late Friday to prevent the spread of coronavirus.