Pakistan launches biggest poverty alleviation programme

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan (Photo by AFP)

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday inaugurated the country's largest poverty alleviation scheme to combat hunger by providing food to the poor, as part of his ambitious plan to build a Madina-like welfare state.

The Ehsaas-Saylani Langar Scheme, which has been launched in coordination with the Saylani Trust, one of the country's biggest welfare organisations, aims to provide hygienic food to the poor.

Khan said the free meal scheme was Pakistan's largest poverty alleviation programme.

"The scheme will be expanded to smaller cities of the country. We will try that no one remains hungry because states do not flourish if their people sleep on empty stomachs," he said.

"All the steps taken by the government are aimed at uplifting the lower strata of the society, ultimately making the country into a welfare state," The Express Tribune quoted Khan as saying.

Ehsaas Programme's head Dr Sania Nishtar said that the government intends to open 112 soup kitchens in the first phase of the scheme, which would be completed in a year. The soup kitchens will provide food to 600 people in the capital on a daily basis.

"[The prime minister] has instructed that no person should go to bed hungry. This Ehsaas Langar programme has been launched in accordance with his wishes," she was quoted as saying by Dawn newspaper.

Khan congratulated Nishtar as well as the Saylani Trust for initiating the programme and claimed that none of the previous administrations had spent on welfare as much as his government.

He repeated his ambition to build a welfare state, based on the model of the state of Madina, where the poor section of the society will be uplifted.

He said that the government was striving to create opportunities for the business community in order to generate wealth that can be spent on people.

He, however, emphasised that change would take time.

"People are impatient," the prime minister said.

"It's only been 13 months (since his government came to power) and they ask 'where is the state of Madina'. The state of Madina was not created within a day," Khan said.

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