Women wait for their turn outside a mobile franchise in Upper Chitral to get BISP assistance. — Dawn
Women wait for their turn outside a mobile franchise in Upper Chitral to get BISP assistance. — Dawn

CHITRAL: The beneficiaries of the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) struggled to receive quarterly stipend from the franchises of mobile operators in Chitral and Booni areas for the fifth day on Monday.

They waited in long queues braving the biting cold as the snow fell.

Resenting mismanagement in the stipend disbursement, the men and women blamed their misery on the laxity of the relevant BISP officials in the implementation of the terms of reference set for a private bank, which holds the contact in the province.

Under the ToRs, there should be a biometric verification machine for every 500 beneficiaries.

However, only four such machines are there for 19,500 BISP beneficiaries across the district, including two in Chitral city and one each in Drosh and Booni.

The bank is also bound by the contract deed to provide a BVS machine in every village council in line with the number of the programme beneficiaries for stipend payment on their doorstep without any cost. However, every beneficiary is being charged from Rs100 to Rs200.

Human rights activist Niaz A Niazi criticised the BISP and said poor women were being subjected to ‘inhuman and humiliating’ treatment through long wait for payment in front of a mobile shop in the chilly weather.

He said the BISP beneficiaries spent more than half of the stipend on transportation and hotel stay.

Mr Niazi claimed that women from Karimabad, Gobor, Arkari, Oveer, Yarkhoon, Laspur, Nogram, Terich, Khot, Rech, Ashret, Arandu, Sheshi Koh and other distant villages had to travel with male family members for collect Rs5,000 each.

Some BISP beneficiaries in Chitral city and Booni complained that they had to wait for days outside franchise shops for their turn to use BVS machine and get payment.

Drokhum Shah of Yarkhoon valley told Dawn that he had come to Booni area with wife to collect stipend and would spend two nights in the hotel, so only Rs1,000 would be left with them after the deduction of accommodation and travel expenses.

He demanded the restoration of the old system of disbursement through the Pakistan Post on the people’s doorstep.

The administration of Lower Chitral on Monday announced the opening of the district council’s hall for stipend payment on Tuesday in light of the inclement weather. However, the BISP beneficiaries in Booni and Drosh towns were left to their fate.

When contacted, BISP director (field operations) Arif Karim said his organisation was fully aware of the ordeals of the programme beneficiaries in Chitral and would address them.

Published in Dawn, January 7th, 2020