Thousands of people in this country don’t enjoy the privilege of having two square meals a day. A vast majority of folks feel no concern for their special nutrition needs; what really worries them is how to feed their family members on anything edible. They are blissfully ignorant of what balance diet is. Most of them get a rare opportunity of eating meat only on the occasions of Eid al-Adha. For those who find it difficult to make both ends meet, it is impossible to have a balanced diet while inflation reaches almost double-digit figures. Thus they are vulnerable to a plethora of health related problems with weak immune systems.

Whenever an indigent person contract a disease, before all else, home remedies are given. When all the available options are exercised and the symptoms still keep aggravating, then most likely spiritual methods are adopted. The disease reaches its worst stage in many cases just because people don’t afford its treatment cost in the beginning. Then they either have to let their beloved die or go for expensive therapies beyond their means. In such difficult circumstances, all the hard earned money is spent and people burden themselves with crippling debts. They are completely stripped of their resources in one go. Even the incumbent Prime Minister acknowledged this fact many a time while speaking publicly.

Why would such poor people send their children to school where they are turned into (short-term) liabilities in terms of various types of expenditures which may exceed their income? As they have to pay for conveyance, books, uniforms etc. Common sense suggests those who live from hand to mouth may prefer to motivate their children to work for money upon reaching a suitable age. It’s right here where the roots of child labour may be found. After all, many young students complete graduation and some even attain higher degrees, only to join the ranks of unemployed. When there are no monetary incentives why would a penniless person invest in educating his children? One may come to know just by conducting a brief survey that there are highly qualified persons among call center agents, clerks, vegetable vendors, labourers, ordinary shopkeepers and people doing other dead end jobs.

Many parents give their underage daughters in marriage as they fail to fulfil their human needs concerning food, healthcare, education, and so on. This is one of the reasons behind the persistent occurrence of child marriages in the country. Whether it is theft, kidnapping, drugs, prostitution, or any other social evil, poverty contributes heavily to their creation and prevalence. Leader of a criminal gang may belong to an upper class, but the underlings, who knock themselves out while putting their shoulder to the wheel, mostly join these organizations under financial compulsion. Poverty needs to be eliminated in order to build a just and civilized society.

The last KP government had approved a monthly stipend of 10,000 rupees for prayer leaders who have mostly no other major source of livelihood. In this connection, data of mosques all over the province was collected, but nothing happened following that. The issue has been arose once again by the current Chief Minister who has asked the Auqaf Department to prepare a case for provision of emoluments of Pesh Imams so that it can be included in the next fiscal budget. This time practical steps should be taken, otherwise such hopes shouldn’t have been aroused in the first place.

Recently Prime Minister Imran Khan launched an ambitious 80 billion rupees anti-poverty program named as “Ehsas” i.e. empathizing (with destitute). Special focus has been given to persons with disabilities, women, senior citizens, and homeless children. It was also announced that a special ministry for poverty alleviation will be established which implies that the government is fairly serious about this program. Moreover, according to “Ehsas”, which is an initiative first of its kind in the country, EOBI pensions will be raised, spending on higher education will be boosted, and special nutrition schemes to address malnutrition and stunting in children will be introduced. It’s another cardinal virtue is the redressal of transgender people’s grievances, which makes it more inclusive.

What most people would be waiting now is the transformation of this program into reality. Most importantly, people who are entitled to these allowances should be acquainted with benefits “Ehsas” offers. They must be guided in how to make use of these facilities. Many poor people get afraid of complex, administrative procedures and are averse to embracing such approaches. Therefore, processing of applications should be made as simple as possible. I know not of a single impoverished person who has ever secured interest-free loan from a bank and so would most of the readers. Most of them have neither know-how nor means to access mainstream media or social media. Therefore, mass campaigns should be organized to illustrate them every aspect of “Ehsas” and enable them to exploit what it presents.

If this government went great guns with its anti-poverty initiative, creation of 10m jobs, and building of 5m houses, one can rest assured that long-term economic prosperity would be achieved soon.