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Sunday Mar 22 2020
Web Desk

Balochistan, Punjab govts seek Pakistan Army's help to battle coronavirus

Web Desk

QUETTA/LAHORE: The governments of Balochistan and Punjab on Sunday sought the Pakistan Army's help in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, asking it to assist civil institutions as the number of confirmed cases in the country crossed 600.

Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar said he was calling in the military to help tackle the COVID-19 pandemic during the ongoing emergency situation.

Read moreCoronavirus updates, March 22: Latest news on the coronavirus outbreak from Pakistan and around the world

The Army was being summoned under Article 245. "This is a time of emergency; we all need to face the challenge of this pandemic together," Buzdar said.

On the other hand, the Balochistan government has written to the Ministry of Interior to ask for the Army to be deployed in the province to help contain the infection from spreading.

Earlier, an influx of Pakistani pilgrims from Iran through Taftan had led to coronavirus spreading in the country, despite the patients being held in a quarantine at the border. The cases were confirmed when the said people were tested again in Sukkur and other parts of Sindh, including Larkana.

No going out 'unnecessarily'

Separately, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah earlier today announced a province-wide lock-down in the province, effective midnight. "After 12am tonight [Sunday night], Sindh will undergo a lock-down," he said.

"People will not be allowed to venture out of their homes unnecessarily," Shah said, adding that if citizens needed to go to the hospital, only three persons would be allowed to travel in a car.

In an earlier statement issued after a meeting, the chief minister had said the government was taking this important decision in the interest of people and hoped that the public would support the government.

The provincial authorities also sought help from the Army to ensure compliance of its orders after people ignored the CM's appeal on Friday to stay indoors.

'No option but to impose lock-down'

Sindh is struggling to contain the coronavirus as it has reported the highest number of coronavirus cases at 292.

“We are about to take major and difficult decisions for the safety of people,” Shah said, adding that the government was concerned about the welfare of the masses.

“There’s no option but to impose lock-down in the province and I will announce this later today,” he added.

Further, control rooms would be established at the offices of Director-General Rangers Sindh and Inspector-General of Police.

Army’s help sought

The Sindh government also requested the federal government for the deployment of military personnel in the province.

“In the wake of the prevailing situation of the increasing number of Covid-19 cases in the province, the Province of Sindh requires the services of Armed Forces in aid of civil power under Article 245 of Constitution read with Section 131 (a) of Criminal Procedure Code," a letter from the provincial government read.

"The details of the requirement will be communicated in due course after assessment in coordination with the quarters concerned. It is, therefore, requested to kindly accord approval for deployment of armed forces in aid to Civil Power in the Province of Sindh,” it added.