ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Poverty Alleviation Dr Sania Nishtar on Friday said the government was committed towards building a welfare state where rule of law, meritocracy and transparency was guaranteed to all citizens and a social safety net was provided to marginalised segments.

She was speaking to participants of Pakistan Inequality Debate hosted by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pakistan. This was the second webinar in connection with the debate.

“This year we will cover one million families under Ehsaas Kafaalat, breaking a record — this will be the highest number of families ever getting regular support from the government,” Dr Nishtar said.

The webinar was held to discuss findings of ‘Pakistan National Human Development Report (NHDR) 2020: The Three Ps of Inequality: Power, People, and Policy’ which was launched by Prime Minister Imran Khan in April this year.

In his welcoming remarks, UNDP Pakistan Resident Representative Knut Ostby highlighted the policy as a core strategy through which governments determine what kind of country they want to create for citizens.

“Citizen power is an important part of public policy. By participating in the political process, citizens can play an important role in defining the future of the country,” he said.

Dr Hafiz Pasha, presenting the report’s findings, spoke of policy in the context of areas that need redressal.

“Pakistan has experienced high income and wealth inequality, with the richest groups co-opting the lion’s share of national income, bank advances, farm area and property. The NHDR 2020 shows that the value of the privileges of Pakistan’s vested interests added up to Rs2,660 billion in 2017-2018,” he added.

Moderated by Mosharraf Zaidi, chief executive officer and senior fellow at Tabadlab, the panel discussion explored the role of policy in creating inequality in the country.

Published in Dawn, August 14th, 2021

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