By Dr Saeed Ahmed Ali
LAHORE, Mar 08 (APP):Economic growth of any society is subjected to equitable living standards for all strata of society, especially those who had fewer opportunities for economic, social, and human development and mostly remained caught in vicious cycle of poverty.
The PTI government’s Annual Plan envisages realization of the Vision 2025 by launching social welfare initiatives by providing an enabling-environment and tangible opportunities through policies, programmes and projects for promotion of social justice and equity in the country.
According to the 2017 Census of Pakistan, the estimated population is 220 million and owing to provide roof to 20 million homeless strata, the PTI government has launched flagship project of Shelter Homes t in the country.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in its survey which was conducted during 2016, revealed that forty percent of Pakistan’s population living in multi poverty forms.
According to a document of Physical Education, Development & Peace (PDP) Foundation, there are 20 million people without housing across the country and majority of them is living in big cities.
The launch of the Shelter Homes project (Panahgah) is a welfare initiative and brainchild of the Prime Minister Imran Khan, who has pledged to turn Pakistan into Madina-like social welfare state.
Prime Minister Imran Khan on November 10, 2018 has laid the foundation of the shelter homes project for the segments that were compelled to spend nights on the streets under the open sky. “Providing shelter to the destitute class was one of his dreams, which was the salient feature and true replica of the Madina-model social welfare state,” Prime Minister Imran Khan had assured.
Talking to APP, Spokesperson of Punjab government Musarrat Jamshed Cheema said that helping the needy segments of the society was a priority agenda of the PTI government and Prime Minister Imran Khan was continuously working day and night for the welfare of the general public.
The Punjab government during intense cold and harsh weather conditions, established 92 temporary shelters (Panahgahs), across the province in all 36 districts, she informed.
Religious scholar Mufti Shahid from Jamia Ashrafia while classifying the true domain of Islamic Welfare State, defined that facilitating the needy strata was the responsibility of the ruling regime, and termed this welfare project as worth commendable.
The announcement of government to extend the scope of the facility to the other cities has widely been hailed by all the all society circles.
Various media reports show that the step of incumbent PTI government to shifting helpless and vulnerable segments from slums and informal settlements to regular shelter homes, was being seen with great appreciation in the country.
Social Welfare department (SWD) document revealed that since November 24, 2018 to February 29, 2020 a total of 14,7568 passengers and homeless people availed the facility in five crowded area Shelter homes (Panahgahs) of the city. Similarly 386,802 people were provided with breakfast and dinner facility, it said.
It is worth mentioning that medical teams were also providing medical treatment facility including free medicine to the temporary residents of the shelter homes in the city which include Data Darbar, fruit and vegetable market, general bus stand, railway station.
Punjab Social Welfare Department data confirmed that during the recent harsh cold weather the government provided protection and shelter to more than 23,000 people in temporary shelter homes in different areas of the provincial metropolis while provided refuge, meal and transport facilities.
Sheter Homes Director Mubashir Javed said that the objective behind the establishment of shelter homes was to restore self-respect of homeless people in a dignified manner which would help broaden the domain of social responsibility by the state and citizens.
“Under the patronage of Paunjab Government this project is running more successfully than the estimated,” he said.
It is pertinent to mention here that the shelter homes project is being run by a Board of Directors on a Public-Private-Partnership model.
Mian Muhammad Fayyaz, Social Welfare officer at Railway Station shelter home said that it was most often observed that in the surroundings of the area, the poor labours and travelers were forced to sleep on road-sides and park during night, due to paucity of their resources.
The Shelter homes (Panahgahs) were not permanent stay-buildings, rather passengers and needy people could only avail a stay for maximum three-nights, with two meals per 24 hours.
Soon people will get their own homes permanently, as the Prime minister imran Khan has launched Naya Pakistan Housing Programme, he said.