ISLAMABAD: The government has been providing Rs100 billion assistance every year to the beneficiaries of Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) but this amount will never bring any change in their lives.
This was stated by Shoaib Sultan Khan, the head of Rural Support Programme (RSP), at an event “Guftagu” organised by Oaj-i-Kamal Forum at a local hotel on Monday.
He said poverty was at the household level and we have to reach them and support them to come out of it.
There are around 18 million households in the country and 42pc of them are below the poverty line. Overall, he added, 72pc were vulnerable so they should be helped and pulled out of poverty.
Shoaib Sultan Khan says poor people have potential to bring a change in their lives by working in groups
Poor people cannot do anything individually because of so many hurdles in their lives but they have the potential to change their lives.
They should make organisations or groups to address their issues and such an organisation should be run by one of them.
Mr Khan is one of the pioneers of rural development programmes in Pakistan. He worked as a civil servant for 25 years and then served in the Geneva-based Aga Khan Foundation for 12 years and Unicef and UNDP for 14 years.
Since his retirement, he has been involved in the RSPs on a voluntary basis.
Mr Khan said in 1992 Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif visited Gilgit-Baltistan and was impressed by the social activities being carried out by the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP). The prime minister told Mr Khan that the programme should be started at the national level.
“Later, I was called for a briefing during which Mr Sharif said he would provide Rs10 billion to start the programme in 102 districts. I said once the director of the programme is nominated, he cannot be dismissed and the government can ask me about the programme but cannot tell me how I should work,” he said.
“The prime minister laughed and said it was strange that the government would provide funds but cannot interfere in its utilisation. However, he approved the project and the then finance minister, Sartaj Aziz, released the first installment of Rs500 within seven days. “I was informed that Rs500 million would be released after every six months,” he said.
Mr Khan said an endowment fund was established with the first installment but after four months the then president, Ghulam Ishaq Khan, dismissed the government of Mr Sharif and his successor, Benazir Bhutto, announced that the amount had been allocated illegally.
In reply to a question, Mr Khan said in 2005 PTI chairman Imran Khan engaged him to work for the betterment of the people of Mianwali and a number of steps were taken.
Chairman of the forum, Fazlur Rehman, said the aim of the forum was to invite legends who served the country and made a difference, and give an opportunity to the youth to interact with them.
Interestingly, Mr Khan reached the venue of the event a few minutes before the organisers for which the organisers had to apologise to him.
Published in Dawn, May 31st, 2016