Protecting Police Personnel Is Vital To Fight Coronavirus in Pakistan
According to the latest statistics, the 2020 pandemic of COVID-19 has resulted in 2 casualties and 456 confirmed infected cases across Pakistan. So far the outbreak has claimed more than 9000 lives globally across 176 countries, with more than 250,000 confirmed cases; needless to say how severely it has impacted almost every sphere of life. Whenever any nation faces threats of any kind, the utmost responsibility to safeguard the lives of its citizens falls on the shoulders of the law enforcement agencies. COVID-19 is a global threat that does not respect boarder controls and immigrations checks.
A country sharing borders with the already severely impacted China and Iran, Pakistan is accelerating towards the COVID-19 emergency. However, owing to lack of education and awareness among the common citizens along with a majority inclined towards baseless superstitions and myths, the severity of the the situation is still not understood and realized by many.
If the situation remains uncontrolled and goes towards the worse, contrary to the Prime Minister’s recent address to the nation, a lockdown in the country will be mandatory to save the citizens from this global emergency. The five point advisory by the Pakistani premier is doable but it is more important to work out the support of the state machinery, establishing more field hospitals, ventilators and take serious measures to maintain the demand and supply of goods and necessary items not only for the field workers but for the general public in order to handle the unseen in a peaceful way.
In these circumstances, the most crucial responsibility, after doctors and medical professionals, would lie on the law enforcement agencies with more than 90 percent on the police department of provinces and the capital.
In Pakistan, Sindh government announced partial lockdown and without any doubt the police is the frontline authority to implement the government orders, particularly section 144 of Pakistan Penal Code, by stopping people to gather in groups of more than three or four and to stop the double-sawari (twin ride on motorcycles). Simultaneously, they have to perform many other duties that require patrolling on roads and the responsibility to hold pickets not only on the capital, metropolitans and cities entry & exit points but the link roads as well as main highways establishing hundreds of pickets deploying thousands of officials across the country. On the other hand they are required to perform their usual judicial duties as well with the ongoing crime investigations. It has been observed that the policemen are more vulnerable to the virus than the doctors and health professionals due to the nature of their job.
The police officials therefore are exposed to the outbreak by continuous contact with hundreds of people daily; particularly in the country like Pakistan where law and order situation is not very ideal. Regardless of all the efforts made by the corporals to the inspector general, this deadly virus is continuing to spread globally posing health risks to not only the force individuals but the communities as well.
The current situation in Pakistan is not as severe as it is in Europe, Iran or other countries but the government needs to get prepared and the concerned departments should start planning and requesting data from China, Iran and Europe in order to strategize and prepare for their duties if the situation becomes more challenging, as expected in coming days.
As the situation is currently under control, we might not require screening of all the police officials and personnel across the country but a simple one page advisory is also not enough to get everyone protected and prepared in the above mentioned vulnerable conditions. It is important to halt the duties of the personnel showing symptoms of flu, cough and fever, instead of advising them to wear the mask. Unnecessary travel in public transports should be stopped and virtual meetings using technology and media should be adopted instead.
It is also imperative to distribute the working hours and responsibilities and the government should provide sanitizers, face masks and gloves to the officials while dealing with public especially in courts and front desk offices and during patrolling and pickets.
This will be a fruitful move if government helps in making joint operations of health staff with the police officials on roads and provincial borders to identify the suspected cases and in the populated areas. This will help in ensuring health safety and avoidance of any expected future mishaps which other developed countries are drastically facing.
We need to realise that this pandemic has left even the superpowers, powerless. Nevertheless, correct usage of strategies, adequate research and data, precautions, planning and most importantly our will power and faith can help us combat, defeat and eradicate COVID-19.