A matter of EHSAAS.

Author:Ali, Wajid
Position:Pakistan's social welfare program

Byline: Wajid Ali

Four pillars (addressing elite capture, safety nets for marginalized segments of the society, jobs and livelihoods as well as human capital development) one hundred and fifteen anti-poverty actions aiming to transform Pakistan from a national security state to a welfare state is a welcoming get-up-and-go.

The broad social welfare programme is for the jobless, laborer's, for poor farmers, students, women and elderly citizens. Moreover, the programme is also aimed to reduce inequality, invest in people and uplift lagging districts. The hunch to poverty reduction in the country is seen as a policy priority after Prime Minister Imran Khan's launch of the policy statement on EHSAAS programme backed by allocation of Rs. 80 billion in the budget 2019-20.

Prime Minister Imran Khan is looking at the constitution change to make provision of food, clothing, housing, education and medical relief a state responsibility. Turning it into reality demands integrated efforts and commitment from all the stakeholders both involved directly or indirectly irrespective of their own vested interests. It's time to call on the government to prioritize free public services over privatization and demand the rich and the ruling elite to pay their due share to fund such a huge poverty reduction initiative.

Can the premier be able to succeed in achieving the goal of poverty reduction while the bureaucracy, being the implementer, seems reluctant to move ahead on such program owing to certain reasons including the fast track actions against bureaucrats by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB)?

How the program's objective can be achieved when the public service delivery is done on the basis of interest of some influential groups instead of making it a need-basedaction? How different will be the new setup for social protection and poverty alleviation than the existing one? Can we afford this ambitious poverty alleviation programme given the circumstances that ruling elite is not ready to pay their fair share in the form of taxes to raise revenue portions? Will our judicial system be strong enough to protect the fundamental rights of common citizens especially when the matter is against the ruling elites? The answer is an obvious 'No'.

How the basic human rights of common citizens can meet up in a country where justice is always delayed and it is hardly possible for the poor to get justice with the incumbent police and judicial systems? How the outcome of...

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