The interior ministry on Monday issued a notification according to which Pakistan Army troops were deployed throughout the country to help tackle the spread of the coronavirus.
“The Competent Authority, in exercise of the powers conferred under Article 245 of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan and Section I31-A of CrPC is pleased to authorize deployment of sufficient strength of troops of Pakistan Army in Punjab province depending upon the requirement to be worked out by the provincial Government in liaison with the Army authorities in connection with the prevailing situation related to the spread of COVID-19 and matters ancillary thereto, subject to laws enforced in Pakistan,” read the notification for Punjab.
Similar notifications were issued for Sindh, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Azad Kashmir, and Gilgit-Baltistan.
The notification comes at a time when the number of affected cases in the country have soared past 800 and six people have succumbed to the infection in Pakistan.
The government of Sindh imposed a province-wide lockdown on Sunday while the Punjab government decided to take important decisions to encourage social distancing and self-quarantine.
The lockdown in Sindh was imposed for 15 days.
In Punjab, Chief Minister Usman Buzdar ordered the closure of all unnecessary shops and banned pillion riding. Section 144 was also imposed in the province to continue for 14 days.
Buzdar said grocery stores, fruit markets, bakeries, and meat shops would not be subject to the lockdown’s conditions. However, he clarified that the province was not undergoing a lockdown neither a curfew.
“I want to make it clear to you that this is neither a curfew nor a lockdown situation,” he said. “We are bringing a little changing [in the situation],” he added.
The chief minister announced that all non-essential shops and services would remain closed as the Punjab government took precautionary measures to ensure the virus does not spread.