ISLAMABAD: Expanding the government’s much ambitious initiative — Koi Bhooka Na Soye (let no one sleep hungry) — to Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday vowed to establish a network of “meals on wheels” programme throughout the country to provide free food to poor and deserving people.
However, the opposition lashed out at the prime minister, alleging that after making people hungry and jobless due to “unprecedented” price hike, he had launched a programme to provide free meals on trucks to the masses.
The “meals on wheels” programme under the Koi Bhooka Na Soye initiative was initially launched in the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad. It has now been extended to Lahore, Peshawar and Faisalabad.
Under the programme, free food will be distributed through mobile kitchens among labourers, daily-wage earners and low-income people who could not afford to go to Panahgahs and Langarkhanas run by the government in partnership with the private sector.
In a virtual event held in Islamabad, Faisalabad, Lahore and Peshawar simultaneously, Prime Minister Khan along with Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar and KP Chief Minister Mahmood Khan started distribution of food among people through kitchens on trucks in the three cities.
Speaking on the occasion, the prime minister said Pakistan was created in the name of Islam which rose as a new civilisation in a very short time and Riyasat-i-Madina established itself as a model for rule of law and service to humanity. “Blessings of Allah shower on those who feed the hungry and take care of the poor people,” he added.
He said Pakistan was among the top countries whose people gave immense amount of charity as Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital was established and being run through charity. “I was told even by doctors that it was difficult to run the cancer hospital where 70 per cent free treatment is given. We fulfilled the promise with the people and gave free treatment to cancer patients and arranged for their food and accommodation,” he added.
Prime Minister Khan said that for the first time in the country’s history, Panahgahs were set up for labourers who came from other cities and did not have a place to spend night. They also get food at these Panahgahs and save money to send it to their families back home. The network of Panahgahs will also be expanded, he assured.
He said universal health insurance would be given to the whole population in the provinces of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. A citizen will have insurance of Rs1 million to spend on his medical needs. “In the next phase, the network of hospitals will be expanded and further reforms will be undertaken in the health sector.”
PM Khan praised the chief ministers of Punjab and KP, Senator Sania Nishter and Saylani Trust for successfully running different components of the Ehsaas programme, arranging finances and ensuring transparency.
Published in Dawn, April 12th, 2021