Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday said the country is still facing a difficult time because there are a few rich people and a sea of poor. This he said while formally launching the Ehsaas Kafaalat Programme in Islamabad to financially empower a total of seven million most deserving women across the country in three phases.
Addressing the ceremony, the prime minister said government is taking steps to make Pakistan a welfare state on the pattern of state of Madina. He said the social welfare programmes of the incumbent government transform Pakistan into a country where social equality prevails.
The Prime Minister said no society can develop where elite prospers at the expense of a sea of poor people. The prime minister said the PTI government has so far given health cards to six million families who can now avail medical treatment of up to Rs720,000.
“There’s a huge number of people who undergo challenges, who face difficulties in feeding their children. Setting up this system was necessary for money to go to them,” the premier noted.
Imran Khan said loans being given under Ehsaas programme will promote entrepreneurship and small and medium enterprises of the country. He said around Rs200 billion have been earmarked for Ehsaas programme to help uplift the weaker segments of society.
The prime minister said under Kafaalat programme, opening bank accounts of women will help stop theft of their money and also enable them to purchase essential items from Utility Stores Corporation (USC) outlets. Imran Khan also appreciated giving smartphones to programme recipients that will open a whole new world for them and their families. He said new programmes of Ehsaas will be coming in next two weeks, under which other social welfare measures will be given to poor people which is bring a revolution. He said cows and buffalos will also be distributed among the deserving women to economically empower them.
He reminisced about how the country was growing when it was in its infancy. “I keep saying this over and over (that) there’s one reason why Pakistan was progressing fast in the 1950s, there’s one reason why we couldn’t reach that place.
“This land has God-givenresources, the people are talented, the people do a lot but the country didn’t go ahead, it was left behind. The biggest reason is that no country can progress where there are a few rich people and a sea of poor.
“A country progresses when its rich uplift the poor. China did that for its 700 million people in 30 years,” he said, referring to Pakistan’s economic and trade ally that is also part of the giant infrastructure and business project, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
There’s also the example of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), of the state of Madina, PM Imran added. “Muslims were poor but when he set up a welfare state, that made its foundation, Muslims became a nation for 300 years after that,” he said.
“The Holy Quran advises us to learn from them. That’s why Pakistan didn’t progress… because we left them (the poor and the underprivileged) behind. There was no education for them, no hospitals, we didn’t take care of their health or their food, they weren’t provided justice.”
But the prime minister vowed to improve the state of affairs. “We will change it, that’s the meaning of Naya Pakistan, where we’ll take responsibility for the lower-class group,” he said, terming the Ehsaas Kafaalat Programme the PTI government’s “biggest accomplishment”. When people do not have money to get the required medical treatment, that, he said, was the “biggest crime of society”.
“Where a man is in pain, his children are in pain, his mother is in pain, when there’s sickness in a poor family, it becomes an even bigger challenge as they already face difficulties in feeding themselves. The entire family takes a hit,” he said.
However, with the country moving towards a better and bright future, he said it paved way for the “welfare state towards which we are going”.
“It will be the Pakistan of Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Allama Iqbal,” he added. The premier said the children of poor families will be given education scholarships as change is coming in rural areas.
The prime minister appreciated Special Assistant Dr Sania Nishtar on working hard and developing proper system to distribute money among the most deserving people of the country. The prime minister also distributed Kafaalat cards among the deserving women.
Earlier, Special Assistant on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation Dr Sania Nishtar said that under the programme deserving women will be given cash stipends of Rs2,000 per month.
She said identifying the deserving persons was a big task as the data of BISP was ten years old. She said the government used Nadra records and surveys to identify the persons who really deserve, so that unscrupulous elements do not take advantage of the scheme. She said process of desk registration of deserving persons has been started at the tehsil level.
She said agreements have now been made with two banks to open biometric ATMs to facilitate the receiving of money under Ehsaas programme. She said every recipient woman will have a saving bank account. She said smartphones will be provided to the recipients in order to facilitate them on financial transactions and to gain access to other useful projects under Ehsaas initiatives. She said 7 million households are being brought into the fold of Kafaalat, which also includes 4 million households of BISP. She aid Kafaalat has been opened in 70 districts across the country while the schedule of remaining districts will be issued soon.