Caring for shelterless

PTI is close to completing its one hundred days in government. Both successes and failures on certain fronts may be attributed to its credit. Whilst the government has taken some difficult decisions such as increasing the power and gas tariffs which in fact were imperative to reduce the losses of both the sectors, the overall posture of government has so far been pro-poor and we say so given the initiatives taken by PM Imran Khan for the homeless and shelterless people.
On the instructions of the Prime Minister, the Punjab Government has now setup tents for people sleeping on footpaths in Lahore where the inmates are also being provided with food. In fact this is the first time that any government has shown so much concern and felt the pain of these dispossessed and down and out segments of the society. It was for these people that the Prime Minister earlier this month had also performed the ground breaking of Panah Gah – a shelter project – in Lahore. As the construction of this project requires some time, therefore, the Premier thought it appropriate and rightly so to make makeshift arrangements for them so that they could spend the winter season in a safe environment. Actually these are the people who come from the small towns and rural areas to the big cities in search of livelihood. As most of these people are unskilled, they do laborious work in the day time and as their earnings are low, they cannot afford to take a room on rent and thus spend the nights in the open skies. Thus feeling the pain and agony of these people, the Prime Minister has in fact taken the first step towards establishing a welfare state – the one which looks after the poorest of the poor. As the scenes of people sleeping on the footpaths are also quite common in other big cities, we expect that the similar arrangements will also be put in place there. Then, it must also be ensured that the Panah Gah project is also completed in the given timeframe with all the necessary facilities so that these shelterless people can also live their life with ease and comfort.
Whilst we really appreciate the caring attitude of PM for the shelterless people, the ultimate objective, however, should be to lift them out of poverty and enabling them to earn a decent livelihood. This can be done by providing the market oriented technical and vocational training to them so that they could find reasonable jobs either at home or abroad. Such a policy is at the very core of a welfare state. Most importantly, the government’s poverty alleviation policy must focus on increasing the industrial base of the country and developing agriculture and livestock sectors on modern lines as it will create immense job opportunities for the youth. Special economic zones under the CPEC have afforded an opportunity towards that end. Efforts must be expedited for early establishment of these zones in all the provinces as doing so will also help the country address most of its economic woes by bolstering their exports and then spend more on provision of basic amenities of life to the people.

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