Pakistan Army Assures Full Support To Remote Gilgit Baltistan Region To Deal With Coronvirus

The Pakistan Government had come under criticism from sections of its society for its slow and inept response to Covid-19 outbreak that has engulfed the country. However, the Pakistan Army, the one institution that has always played a frontal role in tackling any crisis is geared up to fully support the people of Gilgit-Baltistan.

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Highlighting the importance of combined efforts needed for defeating coronavirus, the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) of Pakistan General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Tuesday said that the Pakistan Army was fully cognizant of the Covid-19 challenge facing the people of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) and assured the people of the region that they would never be left alone in these difficult times.

Quoting the COAS, Director General ISPR Major General Babar Iftikhar said the Pakistan Army was working closely with the Gilgit-Baltistan government and civil authorities to do everything possible while additional resources were being arranged on a war footing to tackle the threat.

“In conjunction with the federal government, we will never leave the people of GB alone in these challenging times. Pakistanis will fight against COVID-19 as one,” the COAS maintained.

Earlier, Bajwa in his message on Pakistan Day had reaffirmed his resolve and commitment to defeat all challenges including Covid-19 pandemic.

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“Pakistan Day symbolizes the struggle for Pakistan,” ISPR had quoted him. “While playing glowing tribute our ancestors, we reaffirm our resolve and commitment to defeat all challenges including Covid-19 outbreak with faith, unity and self-discipline.”

Meanwhile, in another development, official sources said that the number of confirmed cases in Gilgit-Baltistan had surged to 85. So far, 509 suspected cases, including 164 in the last 24 hours, have been reported. Sources said GB needed a quick response given its rough and rugged terrain and remoteness.

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One person has so far died of the Covid-19 disease in the region. The deceased, Dr Usama Riaz, had reportedly contracted the deadly respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus while screening pilgrims returning from Iran at G-B.

The young Doctor has been hailed as a hero by the region’s chief minister and his cabinet members. The doctor had spearheaded the fight against the virus in the region and had been actively screening people coming into the region from Taftan, a town which shares a border with Iran.

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Capacity of different hospitals in the region – including the Districts Headquarters Hospitals in Gilgit, Skardu, and Chilas – is being enhanced. Gilgit-Baltistan is a remote mountainous region and the difficult terrain makes accessibility an issue. The region needs attention, immediate attention, to prevent the situation from ballooning into a crisis.

Gilgit-Baltistan has been in a complete lockdown since Monday midnight for an indefinite period. Police and paramilitary troops are patrolling the streets and roads round the clock to enforce the lockdown, according to the law minister, Aurangzeb Khan.

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The development comes as provincial governments in Sindh, Punjab, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan had announced lockdown in their provinces to an attempt to stem the spread of the deadly contagion.

To make matters worse the region also faced an earthquake. Tremors were felt in Jaglot, Thaleji, Astur and adjoining areas. According to the initial reports the magnitude, depth and the epicentre of the earthquake remained unknown.

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Earlier, Sardar Shaukat Ali Kashmiri, exiled chairman of the United Kashmir People’s National Party (UKPNP), has blasted Imran Khan government and stated that Pakistan is deliberately infecting Pakistan controlled Kashmir with coronavirus.