Amid strong protests by locals, the Pakistan army has started to move Covid -19 positive patients from Punjab province to Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) and Gilgit Baltistan – the two most marginalised areas under Pakistani occupation. Sources in POK reveal that special quarantine centres have been set-up in Mirpur and other major cities in the occupied regions to cleanse the Punjab province of Covid-19 patients as army top brass has ordered that no positive patient should be anywhere near where Army facilities and Army family housing is there.
Consequently, large numbers of patients are being moved in locked transport carriers to Mirpur city and other parts of PoK and Gilgit Baltistan.The local residents have carried out protests against setting up of quarantine centres for Covid-19 patients from Pakistan as the region already lacks infrastructure and trained medical staff.
They fear the pandemic will grip the entire region and lives of indigenous Kashmiri people are in danger. However, the Pakistan Army top brass is not concerned about this as the POK and Gilgit Baltistan have no political significance in Pakistan especially when compared to the Punjab province.
Residents in Muzaffarabad are terrified that their region is going to be hit by the pandemic and more so because the area simply has no health care facilities to deal with even minor ailments.They say that the Pakistan Army only thinks about Punjab and nothing else. Jaffar Ismail, a trader in Muzaffarabad’s busy downtown area said: “We have been seeing the movement of coronavirus patients from all over Punjab to hospitals in Muzaffarabad and we are very scared at this latest betrayal of the Kashmiri people by the Pakistan army”.
He added: “The Pakistan army only thinks about Punjab and they want to keep Punjab free of this Coronavirus. They are treating Kashmir and Gilgit as the dustbin of Pakistan.”
Dr. Amjad Ayub Mirza, a political activist from PoK said, “On one side we are giving emphasis on social distancing and other side Pakistan government is forcing people to gather and demonstrate against the setting up of quarantine centres.”‘ “There is a lack of governance in Pakistan that’s why they have handed over the entire country to the Army. The Army is making all arrangements to suit its interests, “said the activist.
The total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Pakistan surged to 1,000. More than 400 COVID-19 cases were reported from Sindh, the worst-hit region in the country.
The Punjab province recorded nearly 300 Coronavirus cases, whereas the northeastern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa confirmed 78 COVID-19 cases.