QUETTA - Balochistan Minister for Planning and Development Hamid Khan Achakzai said on Thursday that the provincial government was committed to expanding the existing safety nets to improve the living conditions of the vulnerable populations. Addressing a discussion titled ‘Improving Avenues of Assistance for the Vulnerable in Balochistan’ as the chief guest at a local hotel, Achakzai said that the research study recently carried out by the Refugee Affected and Hosting Areas Programme (RAHA), in collaboration with the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), was a step in the right direction since it offers an objective analysis of the situation on the ground. The minister said that the RAHA programme, which is being implemented in six districts each of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with the financial support of the European Union, offered one of the finest examples of collaboration between the government and UN agencies. Achakzai maintained that the provincial government would leave no stone unturned to ameliorate the plight of the vulnerable populations and would extend all possible support to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in this regard. He also promised to take forward the recommendations of the research study and roundtable discussion. Speaking on the occasion, former provincial minister Roshan Khursheed Bharucha, who was moderator of the discussion, said that the Balochistan government needed to implement the recommendations of the research study since they were in line with its mandate. She also termed the study a valuable addition to the literature on the subject of social protection in Pakistan. The panellists of the discussion included Labour and Manpower Secretary Naseer Ahmed Baloch, Women’s Development Secretary Haider Ali Shikoh, former provincial secretary Dr Rasheed Tareen, Women’s Development Additional Secretary Salma Qureshi, Benazir Income Support Programme Director General (Balochistan) Jiand Khan Jamaldini, Quetta Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Muhammad Asim Siddiqi, UN Women’s Rehana Khilji and senior journalist Shahzada Zulfiqar. The discussion was attended by a large number of senior government officials, staff of NGOs and UN agencies, civil society leaders, media persons and social protection experts. UNDP Programme Officer Mustafa Mahmood delivered the welcome remarks on this occasion, while RAHA Balochistan National Project Director Zahid Saleem delivered the closing remarks. SDPI Senior Researcher Saad Shabbir made a presentation on the findings and recommendations of the study. RAHA and Communication Officer Mustafa Nazir Ahmad was the master-of-ceremonies on the occasion.This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 07-Feb-2014 here.