By Dr Saeed Ahmed Ali
LAHORE, Aug 09 (APP):The Quran represents Allah’s (Divine guidance) and blessings,it teaches all humankind the dignity and respect for each other through helping the helpless, a foundation stone of brotherhood and love in the society.
Economic growth of any society is subjected to the provision of equal living standards for all strata in any society, especially those who had less opportunities for socio-economic development and mostly remained caught in a vicious cycle of poverty.
To ensure respect and dignity to the destitute strata in the country, Prime Minister Imran Khan on November 10, 2018 had laid the foundation of the shelter homes project for the people who were compelled by poverty to spend nights on road footpaths and 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,” PM Imran Khan had assured. Mubashir Javaid, a senior official at shelter homes, told APP that the objective behind the establishment of this project was to restore self-respect of the homeless people in a dignified manner.According to the Census of Pakistan-2017, the estimated population of the country is 220 million and aiming at providing a roof to 20 million homeless strata, the PTI government has launched the flagship project of Shelter Homes in the country.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in its survey conducted in 2016, had revealed that 40 percent of Pakistan’s population was living in multi-poverty conditions.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 a Madina-like social welfare state.
Spokesperson of Punjab government Musarrat Jamshed Cheema while talking to APP said that helping the needy segments of the society was a priority agenda of the current government, adding Prime Minister Imran Khan was continuously working day and night for the betterment of the country and welfare of the general public. She said that during the last two intense cold seasons and harsh weather conditions, the Punjab government had established 92 temporary shelters (Panahgahs), in all 36 districts of the province.The government had already announced extending the scope of the facility to the other major cities of the province, which has widely been lauded by the various quarters of the society, she added.
To a query Musarrat said that Even globally, this initiative of the incumbent PTI government was being seen with great appreciation, as it would shift helpless and vulnerable segments from slums and informal settlements to regular shelter homes in the country.
She said that the PTI government’s Annual Plan envisages realization of the Vision-2025 by launching social welfare initiatives, which would help ensure promotion of social justice and equity in the country.It is worth mentioning that medical teams were also providing medical treatment facilities including free medicine to the temporary residents of the shelter homes in the city.Director Planning, Punjab Social Welfare Department (SWD) Muhammad Salman told APP that total 17,3449 passengers had stayed, 23,6462 took breakfast while 24,6195 took dinner since November 11, 2018 to August 4, 2020, at six shelter homes in the city including Bhatti Gate, Fruit Market, Railway Station, Lorry Adda, Thokar Niaz Baig and Gulbeg.
He said during the last intense cold weather the Punjab government provided protection and shelter to more than 25,000 people in temporary shelter homes in different areas of the provincial metropolis while providing refuge, meal and transport facilities.It may be mentioned here that the shelter homes project is being run by a Board of Directors on a Public-Private-Partnership model.Nazish Mirza, Social Welfare officer at Railway Station shelter home told APP that in surroundings of the Railway station, the poor labourers and travelers who were compelled to sleep on road-sides, now enjoy a respectable stay and food at the shelter home.
To a question she said that the Shelter homes were not permanent stay-homes, rather passengers and needy people could only avail a stay for maximum three-nights, with maximum two meals per 24 hours.She said Prime Minister Imran Khan has launched the Naya Pakistan Housing Programme for all citizens, which would help them get their own homes permanently.