ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan said 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 in the federal capital, PM Imran said divine blessing from God was necessary for an initiative to succeed. “I’m very happy that there’s now a proper system being developed,” he added.
“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.
“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 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-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 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 Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (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. The health card provide [amount 7 lac???]. This is the government’s best work.
“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.
The card will not only make the beneficiaries able to withdraw monthly cash payment but will also connect them to other initiatives under the Ehsaas programme.
The card will be unveiled at the launch of new Kafaalat programme today which will provide Rs2,000 monthly cash payments to seven million of the poorest women in the country.
Previous safety net initiatives under Benazir Income Support Programme, for a decade, had the image of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto on it. Later, during Nawaz Sharif’s government, two pictures appeared on the card—Nawaz Sharif and Benazir.
“Coming under the umbrella of Ehsaas, the Kafaalat will realise the prime minister’s longstanding commitment to ‘Money for Rations’ and ‘One Woman, One Bank Account’,” said the report.
All beneficiaries will be able to access the payments at special ATMs and bank branches and will also have the option to deposit funds into a savings account.
“There are major differences between the earlier BISP programme and Kafaalat”, explained Dr Sania Nishtar.
“Major changes have been made after 10 years. The survey methodology has been revised to enable ongoing identification of beneficiaries through desk registration. The earlier survey was 10 years old,” she said.
“Also, the payment system was 10 years old and through a new procurement process, a new payment system has been installed.
“The cash transfer has been increased, inflation adjusted and the safety net Kafaalat now offers digital and financial inclusion opportunity since women will have bank accounts and better access to mobile phones. We are using data analytics to refine the list of beneficiaries and make sure that only the true deserving have access to safety nets”, added Nishtar.
The Kafaalat programme is expected to benefit seven million women by the end of 2020.