ISLAMABAD: Corona Relief Tiger’s volunteer force of one million million volunteers will officially operate in the country’s three provinces – Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan – next week after an official speech to CRTF members by Prime Minister Imran Khan is expected in pairing days.
The announcement that the CRTF would become operational only in provinces governed by Pakistan’s Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and its allies was made by the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Youth Affairs Usman Dar during a press conference here on Thursday.
On the one hand, Mr. Dar called on the Chief Minister of Sindh Syed Murad Ali Shah and urged the governments of Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan to allow CRTF to carry out relief activities after the corona virus pandemic within their respective jurisdiction and, on the other hand, he warned that if the federal government did not receive a positive response on Monday, the prime minister himself would make a decision on how CRTF member services would be used in these three regions.
Mr Dar said that the CRTF had been given two additional responsibilities to ensure the implementation of the 20-point guideline introduced by the federal government for prayers in mosques during Ramazan and oversee the operation of Utility Shops throughout the country.
Sindh said it would not allow interference in the work of the local government, bureaucracy; The term PML-N Center moves the political gimmick
Initially, the government had announced that the main responsibilities of CRTF members were to demonstrate hoarding, artificial inflation and violation of the law, distribution of rations, public announcements and preparations for funerals, assistance in enforcing locking and creating awareness of coronaviruses.
SAPM said that the CRTF had begun working in its hometown of Sialkot as a “trial run” and district police officers had deployed three CRTF volunteers in each mosque to ensure implementation of the SOP (standard operating procedure) agreed during prayer times. . He said there were 3,000 mosques in the Sialkot district and, therefore, it became difficult for the local government to monitor all mosques.
Likewise, he said, tiger power volunteers will help maintain social distance between buyers in more than 4,000 Utility Shops across the country, in addition to providing information to local governments about the availability of stocks of goods that have been subsidized by billions of rupees to the government.
Mr Dar said that of one million volunteers, 154,000 had registered in Sindh and they were waiting for the coordination of the provincial government and their commissioners and deputy commissioners to officially start work.
When contacted, Education Minister Sindh Saeed Ghani said that there was no need for official approval from the provincial government if someone wanted to do voluntary work. He, however, made it clear that the provincial government would not allow political parties to interfere in the domain of local administration and in the functions of commissioners and deputy commissioners. He asked what would be the reaction of the PTI, if the PPP asked its workers to monitor and supervise the work of the local government and bureaucrats in the provinces governed by PTI.
In addition, Mr Ghani said that the Sindh government already has volunteer services from the Provincial Disaster Management Authority and the Youth Parliament available and will use them when they feel the need.
Minister Sindh alleged that PTI ministers gave the impression that the CRTF would become Prime Minister Imran Khan’s personal power.
The decision to establish the CRTF was announced by Prime Minister Imran Khan during a speech to reporters in Islamabad on March 27 “We have a large youth population in our country which is our asset; we need young people in the fight against coronavirus, “said the prime minister.
Opposition parties strongly oppose the government’s plan to increase troops, saying that such a move would politicize national efforts to fight the corona virus. Opposition parties allege that CRTF will be used to oblige favorites by issuing money from national cats among them.
The Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly and president of the Pakistan-Nawaz Muslim League (PML-N) Shahbaz Sharif also rejected the idea and called it a “political gimmick”.
“The political tools of tiger power must be ended and local bodies must be restored in Punjab to provide practical assistance to those affected by the ongoing lockdown behind Covid-19,” the PML-N leader said.
Providing statistics, Mr Dar said that around one million people had registered for the CRTF which included doctors, engineers, lawyers, retired army personnel and others.
Giving farewell, SAPM said more than 300,000 students, 133,000 social workers, 50,000 doctors, 40,000 teachers and 17,000 health workers had registered to provide their voluntary services for the country after the Covid-19 pandemic.
Data available with Dawn shows that the highest number of more than 619,000 volunteers have been registered as CRTF members in Punjab, followed by more than 154,000 in Sindh, 135,000 in KP, nearly 14,000 in Balochistan, 13,800 in Islamabad, 11,300 in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and 5,800 in Gilgit-Baltistan.
Published in Dawn, May 1 2020
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