Karachi to get four more ‘Panahgah’ centres soon

Published January 25, 2021
FREE food is served to visitors of the Surjani Town Panahgah.—Photo by Fahim Siddiqi / White Star
FREE food is served to visitors of the Surjani Town Panahgah.—Photo by Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

KARACHI: As part of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s initiative, the federal government has identified five places in Karachi to set up as many Panahgahs, where underprivileged and other people from poor segments of society will be provided free food and shelter, in a first such move for the metropolis after more than 100 such centres have already been established in different parts of the country, it emerged on Sunday.

Officials said one of the five Panahgahs had already started functioning in Surjani Town without much media fanfare and formal inauguration while four more centres would be established in different areas.

The federal authorities, they said, had selected low-income neighbourhoods and the residential areas of migrant workers to reach maximum number of deserving people.

“Apart from Surjani Town, sites have been selected in Korangi, Lyari, New Karachi and Sohrab Goth,” said Naseem ur Rehman, the focal person for the government’s Panagah programme.

After Surjani Town, such centres will be set up in Korangi, Lyari, New Karachi and Sohrab Goth

“The one in Surjani Town has already started and we hope that within the first quarter of this year Karachi will get all five functional centres. It’s being done in line with the vision of the prime minister, who has been a strong proponent of providing all-out facilities to the downtrodden segment of society,” he added.

He said the basic concept behind setting up Panahgahs was to support the poor and labour class of the society, which remained shelter-less in urban areas while earning bread for their families mostly living in the rural parts of the country.

The Panagahs, he said, primarily offered them a space with food and shelter amid the best conditions.

PM Khan had last year appointed Mr Rehman, who is an international professional with specialisation in development and humanitarian issues. He brings a wealth of leadership skills and management expertise to the position. As chief executive officer of the Imran Khan Foundation (IKF), he played a pivotal role in strengthening its organisational transformation.

“Some 135 Panahgahs are serving thousands of people across the country,” he said. “In Karachi like any other major urban centre, we expect that each centre will be catering up to 500 people or more in food services and around 100 can stay overnight. It’s just a beginning and we plan to add more value gradually like we did in Islamabad. In Islamabad, we have launched a free shuttle service to facilitate daily wage earners’ travel to the Panahgahs, located on the city’s outskirts. It’s all about bringing some quality and value in the people’s lives with dignity, honour and self respect.”

He said the Pakistan Bait-ul-Mal was providing administrative support and in Karachi the federally administered body was also actively engaged in making the centres operational at the earliest.

The provincial administrations across the country, he said, had supported the federal government’s initiative in their respective provinces and extended all possible support for its success.

Published in Dawn, January 25th, 2021

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