Sindh, Pakistan-run Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan refused to allow volunteers to operate in their jurisdiction
Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday ordered special assistants Sania Nishtar and Usman Dar to officially begin work on the Corona Tiger Relief Force starting next week. However, volunteer forces will only operate in Punjab, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, because the remaining jurisdiction considers them to be politically motivated steps.
Addressing the press conference, Special Assistant for P.M. Dar Youth Affairs said that Corona Relief Tiger Squad would officially begin work after a private speech by the prime minister via social media. He urged administrators in Sindh, Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan run by Pakistan to allow the Assistance Force to CRTF to carry out activities designated in their respective jurisdiction, warning that if the federal government did not receive a positive response on Monday, Khan would issue a personal decision about how they will be used in these three fields.
The Sindh government had previously said that they would not allow interference in local government work or bureaucracy by unelected volunteers. Provincial Education Minister Saeed Ghani said every day Dawn that every volunteer is free to operate without requiring government approval. However, he said, the provincial government would not allow political parties to interfere in the domain of local government and bureaucracy. He questioned how PTI would react if the PPP asked its workers to monitor and supervise such activities in provinces that were ruled by PTI.
In addition, said Ghani Dawn, the Sindh government can utilize the services of volunteers from the Provincial Disaster Management Authority and the Youth Parliament if they feel the need for additional assistance.
According to Dar, the Troops’ responsibility would include ensuring the implementation of a 20-point guideline for congregational prayer in mosques during Ramzan, as well as overseeing Utility Shops throughout the country. The government has announced that the Troops will monitor hoarding, artificial inflation and violations of social distance guidelines, as well as assist local governments in the distribution of rations, public announcements and preparations for funerals, and raise awareness about the new corona virus.
He said the Troops had been operational in his hometown of Sialkot a few days ago as a “trial run,” and three volunteers had been deployed in each mosque to ensure implementation of the guidelines agreed during the prayer. He said there were 3,000 mosques in the Sialkot district and their assistance was very important to ensure they were all monitored.
He said the volunteers would also help maintain social distance between buyers in all Utility Shops in Pakistan, and would monitor the availability of goods subsidized by the government. They will also, he said, identify unemployed workers to ensure they receive financial assistance under the Ehsaas Emergency Cash Program.
Corona Relief Tiger Force, according to official government calculations, currently offers 993,294 volunteers from all over Pakistan. The largest number of volunteers were from Punjab (647,459), followed by Sindh (155,312), then Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (142,441), Balochistan (14,954), Islamabad (14,062), Pakistan managed by Kashmir (12,279), and Gilgit-Baltistan (12,279) , 6,391).
According to Dar, 993,294 volunteers consisted of more than 300,000 students; 133,000 social workers; 50,000 doctors; 40,000 teachers; and 17,000 health workers.
Prime Minister Imran Khan announced the formation of the Corona Relief Tiger Army on March 27, claiming young people will help fight the ongoing pandemic because they are less susceptible to the virus. Opposition forces have denounced it from the start, claiming it is a political ruse and will operate as a private force for Khan that cannot be accepted by rival groups. Khan has denied this claim.
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