SUKKUR: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Monday said that whenever his party came to power, it promoted non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and private sector but the federal government of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) discouraged NGOs across the country by restraining many of them from continuing with their activities.
He said the PPP believed that NGOs including charity and public welfare organisations were carrying out a commendable job by looking after people at grass roots level and in urban as well as far off rural areas of the country. Their public welfare programmes greatly benefited the needy, destitute and other deserving people, he observed, and said such programmes were essentially required to ensure a continued improvement in the standard of life in this country.
Mr Bhutto-Zardari was speaking at the inauguration ceremony of the UC-based Poverty Reduction Programme under the auspices of the Sindh Rural Support Organisation (SRSO).
The PPP chairman said that his party always worked with NGOs and social organisations because public-private partnership was beneficial to masses and helped bring about prosperity in society. It also created employment and business opportunities, he added.
He appreciated the SRSO and Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah for their efforts in this regard and noted that by extending financial and administrative support to the SRSO to implement the programme, the Sindh government discharged its duty of alleviating poverty at UC level.
Mr Bhutto-Zardari told the audience that the programme was launched in 2009 to initially cover around a few thousand deserving families in the UCs of four selected districts.
“I am informed that by 2016, more than 600,000 families living in 395 UCs of 52 talukas in 11 districts were benefiting from the programme,” he said.
Appreciating the progress, the PPP chairman expressed his confidence that within the next five years, the coverage would touch the figure of 1.1 million families. He said the PPP and Sindh government had resolved to alleviate poverty from across the province for which several other programmes, projects and schemes were also in progress.
He stressed the need for women empowerment at all levels. He noted that the PPP and Sindh government arranged for interest-free loans extended to womenfolk to enable them to run their own ventures in different trades like livestock, tailoring, embroidery etc.
“It’s heartening to see that 97 per cent of the women paid off their loans while running their businesses,” he said.
Mr Bhutto-Zardari highlighted the role of his mother, Benazir Bhutto, in public welfare activities and women empowerment throughout her life, and said that being the first woman prime minister of the Muslim World, his mother did her best for the self-respect of womenfolk in Pakistani society.
“A dictator in collusion with terrorists snatched my mother from me and the people of Pakistan lost a great politician,” he said, adding: “But I regard every mother as my mother and have same the respect for each of them”.
He held out the assurance that the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), as well as all other such PPP initiatives, would be extended more vigorously to the people across the country after the PPP would return to Centre in the next election.
He said PPP would continue to support any institution which came forward with the cause of empowering women of the low-income group. He hoped that the SRSO programme would reach each and every district of Sindh.
“By making joint efforts, we and you can eliminate poverty from society,” he said, and pointed to former chief minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah to say that he was the man who had implemented the SRSO programme in 2009 to alleviate poverty and empower women, specially the rural ones.
PPP women wing president MNA Faryal Talpur, speaking to the audience, said that those who were talking of a “change” should realise that the real change was bringing about prosperity and ensure massive development in the country.
She said it was [PPP founder chairman] Zulfikar Ali Bhutto who had dreamt of “new Pakistan” and it was his daughter Benazir Bhutto who devoted her entire life to see his dream coming true.
Now Asif Ali Zardari and Bilalwal Bhutto-Zardari were making all out efforts in this regard, she added.
Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said that poverty alleviation programme had been approved by [then prime minister] Benazir Bhutto and launched by [then Sindh chief minister] Syed Qaim Ali Shah. Now it was being extended to eight more districts. With the required funding expected to be received from the European Union next year, this programme would be extended to all districts of the province, he added.
Syed Qaim Ali Shah and SRSO chairman Shoaib Sultan also spoke.
Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah, Sindh PPP President Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, Information Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah and other senior party leaders elected public representatives, as well as senior officials of various departments attended the ceremony.
Published in Dawn, January 9th, 2018