ISLAMABAD-President Dr Arif Alvi has said that all institutions including health and education must work together to bring social change and alleviate poverty from the country.

Addressing a seminar on ‘Poverty Alleviation in Pakistan: Learning from Success Stories here at the Institute of Strategic on Wednesday, the President said that bringing improvement in education and health sectors as well as eradicating corruption and poverty are major challenges.

Dr Alvi said that unlike the previous governments, the present government is bent on revitalising the ethos of Islam. Islam, he emphasised, has a long history of taking care of the people. Taking care of each other is among a Muslim’s prime responsibilities.

He said that corruption has a direct link to poverty. People are less concerned about intangible things, which are the pillars of democracy and development and need to be conscious about material poverty.

The distribution of money needs to be in areas where people have knowledge about how to utilize the funds in an effective manner.

Dr. Alvi outlined how charity organizations are a remarkable illustration of how a society jumps in where the state has not been able to. He said the present government aims to alleviate poverty by not only through provision of food and financial assistance, but through initiatives of empowering women, especially by addressing the inheritance problem.

He also mentioned malnourishment and stunting as issues of primary concern and said that different ministries such as health, poverty alleviation and education need to work together and help the state to re-establish the balance.

He said Ehsaas Programme launched by the PTI government is a significant step towards poverty alleviation through vocational training of the people and empowering the women.

The President also stressed for sensitizing the opinion makers including the media and the parliament regarding the poverty alleviation.

He said there is also need to create awareness amongst people about the government’s poverty alleviation programme.  

In her remarks on the occasion, Special Assistant on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation Sania Nishtar gave a comprehensive overview of Ehsaas Programme, saying its main target is to ensure one window social welfare.

Dr Nistar observed that the State of Pakistan now realises that security has many dimensions and human security is a very important element of this.

She said that in today’s day and age, the real wealth of a country lies in its human capital. She went on to outline the basic pillars of the ‘Ehsaas Program’ and called the initiative a practical illustration of what happens when a country’s policy translates into practical steps.

Dr Sania said that in a world where Pakistan has a negative image, the resilience and the spirit of comradery of the Pakistani people need to be projected.

Among other things, the Ehsaas programme also targets job creation - specifically skills training, the IT sector, and overseas Pakistanis. Coordinated policy interventions can create more jobs, something we are working aggressively for, she said.

In his keynote address, Shafqat Mahmood said that in Pakistan there is a great deal of Ehsaas in society as can be envisaged in the charity levels which are among the highest in the world.

The Ehsaas program has direct mandate to address issues of poverty and has that spirit of rising to this challenge.

In Pakistan, there is an education apartheid where the society is divided into segments with one extreme never having had education, while the other extreme go to elite schools.

This manifestation leaves behind a lot of people.

Through initiatives such as introducing a single national curriculum, the government aims to address the equity issue, as well as help rectify the fractured mindset of the nation.

Literacy is a tough area to address and poverty is a major reason for not sending children to school.  In the success of Ehsaas, lies the success of Pakistan, he concluded.

Earlier, in his welcome remarks, Director General ISSI, Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry said that for Pakistan like many other developing nations, poverty is a real issue, connected directly to the lives of millions of people.

“Unless we meet the basic needs of food, clothing and shelter, basic education and health for our fellow citizens, and unless we rise up the ladder of human development, we cannot aspire to achieve our lofty goals as a nation,” he said.