Chief Minister of Punjab, Usman Buzdar, has taken the right step by launching “Nai Zindagi” programme for poor acid attack victims. The initiative will indeed prove a milestone in assuaging the miseries and hardships the acid attack survivors. The government’s decision to bear all treatment expenses and rehabilitation of such patients will give them the social rights that the previous governments failed to bestow upon them. For this kind and humane initiative, the government deserves all-out praise.

The fact that the programme also entails the provision of interest-free loans to the acid attack victims tells us that the initiative also aims to empower them financially. Almost nine years ago, the parliament passed the Acid Control and Acid Crime Prevention Act, 2011 to prevent such incidents. The legislation indeed proved instrumental in bringing acid attacks down. However, a state-led initiative to safeguard the rights of acid attacks survivors was missing so far.

However, the project will become more successful if the government ensures that the survivors find jobs in different organisations as per their skills. Such a scheme for the survivors—who are discriminated against in the job market—will allow them to rebuild their lives.

That said, it is, however, necessary for the government to recognise that the acid attacks are part of the widespread gender-based violence (GBV)—often against girls and women. Pakistan has indeed seen a substantial decrease in acid attacks in 2019 compared to the previous years. But the overall GBV still haunts Pakistani society. As long as our efforts against GBV remain insufficient, people, especially women, will stay vulnerable.

Nevertheless, considering the decline in the cases of acid attacks, the government can join hands with non-profit organisations that are working to eradicate acid violence from Pakistan completely. Together with such NGOs, the government can stop acid and burn violence and prevent the proliferation of such brutal happenings.