Pakistan Navy humanitarian assistance campaign during corona virus spread

Pakistan Navy humanitarian assistance 1

By Ali Basit

Today, the world is in a state of war and facing an invisible enemy, the Corona virus or COVID-19, about which we had never thought of fighting with. The pandemic has trembled the existing geopolitical and economic structure of the world. Nation-states are putting forth their best possible efforts to ensure the safety of their citizens’ and to overcome the pandemic impacts and vulnerabilities.

Countries are imposing partial and total lockdown in cities along with domestic and international travel restrictions. All these attempts are meant to abate an international catastrophe. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that countries can’t merely lock down themselves to fight the corona virus outbreak, adding that there need to be public health measures in place simultaneously to avoid a resurgence of the deadly virus later on.

With no exception, Pakistan is also being affected by this global epidemic. The country is synergizing all its available means and resources to limit the pandemic’s spread and its unbearable human cost, as it is most affecting lower middle and impoverished classes. About $8 billion economic package, has been announced by the federal government to counter the negative impacts of the COVID-19 on the economy, including Rs. 144 billion Ehsaas Emergency Cash Program to help 12 million deserving families by providing them financial assistance.

Meanwhile, all the provincial governments were on a lockdown, closing all educational institutions, limiting social gatherings and religious congregations. In these challenging times, Pakistan’s armed forces as always stands by shoulder to shoulder with the Federal and Provincial governments to mitigate the risks underway due to the pandemic. In the event of natural calamities, armed forces are deployed to conduct relief operations in the aid of civil administration apart of National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).

The principle responsibility of the armed forces is to involve in the damage control stage and to revolve around the rescue and relief operations to assist the civil administration, as and when required. As per the National Disaster Response Plan 2010 formulated by NDMA states; “The Armed Forces have always contributed very effectively in emergency response operations and provided immediate relief through massive air and ground efforts.

The Armed forces, although not trained to perform/ conduct rescue and post- disaster relief operations, are utilized by the civil administration because of readily available manpower and national resources with them”. With respect to the aforementioned role, the Armed Forces amid corona virus outbreak are conducting relief operations across the country and also ensuring the implementation of safety measures to contain the spread of the virus.

All points of entries (POE) being manned and monitored effectively by joint efforts of all Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs). Furthermore, tracking and tracing the suspected corona virus patients to isolate them in quarantine facilities are also been executed by these LEAs. Pakistan Navy along with Pakistan Army, PAF and LEAs is contributing effectively in its domain. It is not only assisting the civil administration in the relief operations but is also executing self-sustained nationwide humanitarian assistance program with the help of civil society which includes large number of donors, philanthropists and volunteers.

To kick start the campaign, Pakistan Navy announced to donate salaries in Corona virus Relief Fund. Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral Zafar Mehmood Abbasi, by taking lead, donated his one month salary for the noble cause. Whereas, from the rank of Vice Admiral down to Commodore contributed their three days salary and other remaining officers contributed their two days salary. The CPOs, Sailors and other civilian staff also contributed their one day salary in the relief fund.

The Human Assistance campaign of Pakistan Navy was designed in a way that it should expend all across the country, encompassing variety of relief operations and that too without maintaining any discrimination of race, religion, caste, creed and language etc. Therefore, it can be analyzed on the basis of official press releases shared by Pakistan Navy that around 70000 Ton of Ration, more than 50000 PPEs and Medical equipment have been distributed all across Pakistan with special focus on coastal areas of Pakistan. It is well said that crisis brings best from the nations.

The same is proven in Pakistan Navy’s case. Pakistan Navy has once again achieved trust and collaboration of the donors, philanthropists and volunteers. The modus operandi was simple but effective. In addition to the Pakistan Navy’s own resources; civil organizations run by donors, philanthropists and volunteers have collected the aid from the nation. The aid was then transported and distributed by well managed and highly collaborated Pakistan Navy.

The role of Pakistan Navy Women Association (PNWA) and local civil administration was also appreciable and reveals that “Whole of a Nation Approach” is the only and best way to deal with any natural calamity and disaster. It is pertinent to highlight that all distribution was arranged keeping in view the SOPs promulgated amid Covid-19 wherein forces personnel and volunteers were seen managing appreciable distances and all precautions.

To conclude, Pakistan Armed Forces though have supportive role in disaster management but it always gone an extra mile in the national cause. People of Pakistan especially coastal community expect Pakistan Navy to provide relief and rescue during disasters. Pakistan Navy in support of donors, philanthropists and volunteers have fulfilled the expectations of nation.

It is not known how far this emergent phenomenon and its consequences will go, but hope resides in the possibility that this time too, Pakistan will surely overcome this challenge and will succeed in its struggle as it did during the natural catastrophes of earth quake of 2005 and floods of 2010.

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