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‘We Can’t Afford to Leave Anyone at Mercy of Pandemic’

by Newsweek Pakistan

File photo. SS Mirza—AFP

Pakistan Army chief vows nation will overcome threat of coronavirus through united front

“We cannot afford to leave any segment of society at the mercy of this pandemic,” Pakistan Army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa said on Wednesday after attending a special briefing at the National Command and Operation Center.

Attended by federal ministers, cabinet members, and senior military officials, the briefing updated the participants about the government’s efforts to contain the threat of COVID-19, as well the enforcement measures currently underway to prevent unnecessary movement.

According to a press release issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Directorate, the Chief of Army Staff said all necessary measures must be taken to ensure public safety. “Troops on the ground must reach out to citizens in every nook and corner of Pakistan, not only to protect them against this pandemic, but also for bringing comfort in this hour of distress,” he was quoted as saying.

The Army chief called for a “coherent national effort” to address vulnerabilities before they become threats. “The planned measures, if implemented timely, will contribute to [the] safety and well-being of every Pakistani and society at large,” he said, as he called on Pakistanis to unite against the COVID-19 threat.

“We must rise—and rise together irrespective of caste, color, creed and religion—fighting as One Nation,” said the COAS. “The task at hand is daunting, but we have overcome difficult situations before. This time the challenge is entirely different,” he said, vowing that the armed forces would stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the citizenry to “guard the border between people and COVID-19.”

The ISPR statement concludes by quoting the Army chief as saying that the “Pakistan Army, being part of national effort, will not leave any stone unturned for security and safety of the people of Pakistan.”

The Army chief’s calls for a united front against coronavirus come as the number of confirmed cases in Pakistan crossed 2,100, with 28 deaths and 85 full recoveries. Prime Minister Imran Khan today launched a charitable relief fund to help alleviate the economic impact of COVID-19. He has also announced the formation of the Corona Relief Tiger Force, a volunteer group that would help distribute rations among the impoverished and raise awareness about the threat posted by coronavirus.

The National Command and Operation Center, per the ISPR, is dedicated to synergizing and articulating the national effort against COVID-19. It has been tasked with optimizing informed decision-making, and ensuring the implementation of decisions taken by the National Security Committee and the National Coordination Committee on COVID-19.

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