By Uzma Zafar
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday said that initiatives such as the Ehsaas Kafaalat Programme were part of the effort to lay foundation for the ‘state of Madina’ a goal he has promised to achieve ever since coming into power.
Addressing the Ehsaas Kafaalat Programme’s launching ceremony here, he said divine blessing from Allah was necessary for an initiative to succeed. “I’m very happy that there’s now a proper system being developed,” he added.
“There is 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.
“There are two things very important for women. Those of them who are in the weakest sector, opening a bank account is very important. It’s an amazing thing [because] the money that was stolen won’t be anymore.
“Secondly, those bringing the card can buy from the utility stores and we can provide for them through utility stores as the system goes ahead,” he said.
The prime minister stressed that his primary goal was to “make Pakistan the state that it should have been” from the start, “a state that takes responsibility for that [poor] group that the world has forgotten and left behind”.
He recalled about how the country was growing when it was in its childhood. “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-given resources, 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 it’s 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 Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government’s “biggest accomplishment”.
“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-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Allama Iqbal,” he added. Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday said that accountability, transparency and reforms are the foremost priorities of the incumbent government.
Talking to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader and senior lawyer Babar Awan , PM vowed to strengthen the institutions. All corrupt elements will be nabbed, he stressed.
Both leaders exchanged views on important national affairs. Babar Awan briefed the PM on various legal, constitutional and political issues. Imran Khan said Ehsaas Kifalat Programme will raise the living standards of the poor. Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday said that Pakistan never saw the scale of progress it should have seen because the underprivileged “were left behind” to serve an elitist agenda.
“Neither did we provide them quality education, nor build good hospitals for them. We didn’t care for their health or ensure the provision of food.
“No country that has only served its elite ever progressed,” said the premier, while addressing the launch ceremony of the Ehsaas Kafaalat Programme for poor women, in Islamabad.
According to Radio Pakistan, under the programme, a stipend of Rs2,000 per month will be paid “to the most deserving and poorest women across the country through a digital payment system based on transparent mechanism”.
The premier, while addressing the event, promised that the state will take responsibility of the underprivileged. “Seven million women will receive the Kafaalat card which means seven million households will benefit,” said the premier, adding that health cards had already been distributed to six million families, enabling each to seek treatment worth Rs720,000. “So far, I believe, our government’s greatest achievement is this,” said the prime minister.
“The helplessness that people feel when they don’t have the funds for their treatment, is the greatest cruelty in society,” he continued.
“When illness befalls a member of an underprivileged family, the entire household is thrust below the line of poverty as their entire budget is spent trying to seek treatment,” noted the premier.
During the event, the prime minister distributed cards to several women and expressed satisfaction with the way the programme’s system had been developed so truly deserving women could benefit.
“Humanity demands that you help those less privileged than you,” said the premier, adding: “However, when there is dishonesty in the use of the funds collected, then such programmes are never successful,” said the premier.
“So for its success, it was important for such systems to develop which ensure that the money reaches those people who are truly deserving, who are barely able to feed their children,” said the premier. He explained that the programme had experienced delays because of the focus on developing a transparent mechanism for the flow of funds.
The prime minister said that it was under this mechanism, 800,000 people had been weeded out which included government officers who had cars and were availing foreign tours.
“These women, to whom I just distributed the cards, are among the people whose money was being stolen,” he said. The premier then proceeded with giving out details of how the programme works and provided an outline of other schemes the government will soon be implementing. Under the Kafaalat Programme, he said that women will all be facilitated with bank accounts “so the money isn’t stolen”. He said that the card can be used to buy groceries from utility stores as well.
The premier said that smartphones will also be distributed so the women have access to information.