KARACHI -President Asif Ali Zardari on Monday tasked Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) to make plans for generating overseas jobs for 150,000 youths and train them in different trades and vocations.

He was addressing a graduating ceremony of Waseela-e-Rozgar scheme of BISP under which 10,000 youth have been equipped with vocational skills to enable them to earn their living in a respected manner. The president ordered completion of the task in consultation with the ministries of overseas Pakistanis and foreign affairs. He also asked Benazir Income Support Programme Chairperson Farzana Raj to expand the BISP to cover not only more areas in the country but also to launch new initiatives under its umbrella.

The ceremony held here at Bilawal House here was attended among others by Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari, Aseefa Bhutto Zardari, federal and provincial ministers, parliamentarians and the beneficiaries of Waseela-e-Rozgar scheme. The president congratulated the boys and the girls who had completed training in different trades and said the skills acquired by them would help them earn decent living and become productive citizens.

The President said it was part of the strategy of the government to provide jobs to the people and take the poor people out of the generational poverty traps.

Complimenting Farzana Raja and all others associated with the programme, the president said every system and all programmes took time to fully develop, adding the BISP had developed into a comprehensive social safety net with the flux of time. He termed it a flagship programme of the government for reducing poverty and empowering women.

The president said it was a matter of pride that the programme was progressing and had become a comprehensive social safety net. He said it had attracted worldwide appreciation for its transparency, objectivity and efficiency and was reaching out to over seven million families in a short span of four years. He termed it a major achievement and felicitated the BISP chairperson and all those who made it a success story.

Zardari said it was very rare that a programme which was designed locally keeping in view the indigenous requirements of the population had gained acceptability and recognition not only at national level but also at the international forums due to its objectivity, fairness, outreach and effectiveness. He said the BISP had achieved significant progress in reaching out to the poorest of the poor and extricating people from generational traps of poverty, however, in view of the booming population much more needed to be done as the programme had a great scope to be further expanded and strengthened. The president said that Benazir Income Support Programme was a realisation of the dream of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto and “the vision of the Shaheed leaders continued to guide us to make Pakistan a truly welfare state.”

The president also thanked the international community and partners for their help and support. Their support, he said, had helped bring about a revolutionary change in the lives of the poor and dispossessed. He said he was personally monitoring the progress of the Poverty Scorecard Survey and other initiatives of the BISP. He said it was a countrywide programme and had already been completed in Balochistan. He claimed the poverty score card was a transparent and impartial survey of the poor through an internationally recognised procedure. The president said it would be ensured that public money was transparently utilised for the welfare of the most deserving. For this purpose, he said, the BISP had introduced the mobile phone banking.

He expressed satisfaction that Benazir Smart Card-based payment system had made a good progress in a number of districts. The mobile phone banking, he said, would make payments to the BISP families even easier. Noting the commencement of life insurance under Waseela-e-Sehat scheme, the president urged the BISP team to implement the health protection services for its beneficiaries across the country at the earliest.

The president said the vocational training programme would go a long way in helping the poorest of the poor come out of poverty trap. He said that with the addition of Waseela-e-Taleem to the BISP’s initiatives, now every poor could fulfil the dream of sending his children to school and become better, responsible and self-reliant citizens of Pakistan. He said the addition of free social services like health, accident insurance, vocational training and interest-free financing for self-employment would make the BISP the most productive initiative of this government.

Expressing satisfaction over the progress made so far by Waseela-e-Haq scheme, the president said that provision of interest-free financing was meant to help the BISP beneficiaries to start their own businesses. Giving the poor what was their due was the best was to pay tribute to Shaheed Bibi today, the president said and added women of the BISP families would get cash assistance for setting up their own business for earning livelihood.

Earlier, the president made a computerised draw of Waseela-e-Haq programme and distributed vocational training certificates among the beneficiary graduates of Waseela-e-Rozgar scheme.