Balochistan seeks army deployment

DCs given powers to issue orders they deem expedient in public interest to control COVID-19 spread

Mohammad Zafar March 23, 2020
An AFP file photo of Pakistani troops.

QUETTA: The Balochistan government on Sunday requested the centre to deploy army in the province in aid of civil power in the wake of increase in the number of novel coronavirus cases in the country.

The provincial government has also given special powers to the deputy commissioners according to which they will be authorized to issue such orders in their districts which they deem expedient in public interest to control the COVID-19 spread.

The move comes as Pakistan confirmed fourth death due to the COVID-19 on Sunday.

The country’s tally of confirmed cases stood at 646 with 292 in Sindh, 152 in Punjab, 104 in Balochistan, 55 in Gilgit-Baltistan, 11 in Islamabad and one in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

In a letter written to the Ministry of Interior, the Home and Tribal Affairs department stated that it required military in aid of civil power under Article 245 of the Constitution read with the Section 131 (A) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPc).

It added, “It is therefore requested to please accord approval for deployment of Pak-Army troops … to cope with COVID-19 related issues and for maintenance of law and order situation in the province.”

Meanwhile, the Quetta administration announced imposition of a lockdown in the city to contain the spread of coronavirus outbreak.

“All the food points and shopping markets will remain closed with immediate effect,” the Quetta commissioner said while chairing a meeting to review the implementation of closure of malls and markets in the city.

“General stores, vegetable vendors and meat and milk shops will be exempted from the lockdown,” he added.

He insisted that violation of the orders will result in severe punishment. The meeting was attended by the leaders of trade unions and officials of district administration.

The Central Association of Traders said that the shutdown of businesses would be ensured in accordance with the decision of the Balochistan government.

The association appealed to the traders and people to stay at home and comply with the government orders.

The provincial government has given special powers to the deputy commissioners to stem the spread of virus in the province.

According to a notification issued on Sunday, the deputy commissioners will be authorized to issue such orders in their districts which they deem expedient in public interest to control the COVID-19 spread. Any person found violating the orders shall be subjected to punishment.

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

According to a notification issued by the Home and Tribal Affairs department, the government had made the decision in the best interest of the public.

Earlier, presiding over a core committee meeting formed to deal with the menace of coronavirus, Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal said that the provincial government was taking all preventive steps to curb the spread of the virus and would not tolerate any negligence from officials concerned in this regard.

“All the government machinery has already been activated to meet the challenge being faced by the government,” he said

The CM noted that nothing more was valuable than human life and that doctors were working on the frontline and needed encouragement.

 

Published in The Express Tribune, March 23rd, 2020.

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