Punjab, KP chief ministers told to arrange winter shelters

Updated December 30, 2019

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The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf government on the directives of the prime minister has already set up a number of shelter homes, known as Panahgahs, in major cities of the country. — Photo courtesy Imran Khan Instagram/File
The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf government on the directives of the prime minister has already set up a number of shelter homes, known as Panahgahs, in major cities of the country. — Photo courtesy Imran Khan Instagram/File

ISLAMABAD: Prime Mini­ster Imran Khan on Sunday directed the chief ministers of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to take steps to provide temporary shelters and food to every person in their respective province in the wake of extreme and harsh cold weather.

“Given the extremely cold weather conditions, I have asked CMs of Punjab and KP to ensure that no person is left out without a shelter; and their administrations must take immediate action to provide temporary shelters plus food for those who cannot be accommodated in existing Panah­gahs (shelter homes),” writes the prime minister on his official Twitter account.

Soon after receiving the directives, Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar ordered setting up of temporary shelter homes for those who slept on roadsides in extreme cold weather.

He reportedly said that temporary shelter homes would be set up in those districts where there were no permanent shelter homes. He said protecting homeless people from extreme weather was a responsibility of the state. He said a report should be sent to the CM Office after setting up these shelter homes.

The PTI government on the directives of the prime minister has already set up a number of shelter homes, known as Panahgahs, in major cities of the country.

The prime minister’s tweet, however, prompted a response from main opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) secretary information Marriyum Aurangzeb who drew Mr Khan’s attention towards his promises of providing five million homes and 10m jobs to people. She said instead of focusing on shelter homes and soup kitchens, the prime minister should fulfil his promises.

Ms Aurangzeb in a statement said that Mr Khan, who had promised prosperity through 10m jobs and 5m homes, had brought the benchmark of living in the country to the point where soup kitchens and shelter homes were the way to live, calling the government’s vision as bankrupt.

“This country has come down to completing missing facilities in shelter homes being boasted as achievement, while the PML-N government ran a number of such shelter homes but had major development projects as the feather in its cap. Completing missing facilities at these places will not change the fact that this regime shot inflation up from three per cent to 14 per cent. This does not discount the fact that skyrocketing unemployment and inflation by the PTI regime has pushed people towards living off charity and safety net arrangements,” she said.

“The chief ministers in Punjab and KP, should instead be directed to revive the business and industry that have shut down during the tenure of the present government. Domestic and industrial consumers are suffering due to massive gas loadshedding, while the prime minister is focused on shelter homes and soup kitchens,” she said.

Ms Aurangzeb, who had served as the information minister in the previous PML-N government, maintained that the white collar middle class Pakistanis had been pushed below the poverty line by policies of the present government.

Published in Dawn, December 30th, 2019