PM Imran Khan’s govt pursuing people-centric social agenda: Maleeha Lodhi

UNITED NATIONS: Pakistan’s Ambassador to the UN Maleeha Lodhi has said that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government is taking steps to address poverty and help the underprivileged to gain access to education, employment and health care.

Speaking in the annual session of the UN Commission for Social Development, Maleeha Lodhi detailed priorities of the government and emphasized its commitment to the socio-economic welfare of the people especially the marginalized sections of society.

Maleeha Lodhi said that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s people-centric policies are aimed at promoting financial inclusion, rural development, provision of educational opportunities, access to health care and poverty eradication.

The Pakistani envoy also called for global cooperation to eradicate poverty and ensure social development for all. In this regard, she underscored the need for national and international commitment and action to reduce inequalities.

Faced with a youth bulge, she said that Pakistan is looking to reaping a demographic dividend by providing opportunities for the growth and development of its young population and to maximize the potential of youth.

The Prime Minister’s Youth Program envisages a broad canvas of steps aimed at enabling young people to access opportunities through skills development, higher education and information technology.

“At the same time”, she said, “our new government has instituted a National Health Programme to provide health care to underprivileged citizens. ‘Insaf Sehat Cards’ will potentially benefit over 15 million families for a start”.

The ambassador also highlighted Pakistan’s commitment to ensure gender equality and women’s empowerment. She pointed to social safety initiatives like the Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) as an example of help being extended to vulnerable segments of society to overcome extreme poverty and find livelihoods.

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“We believe that the country’s social, political and economic development can only be sustained by ensuring gender equality and women’s empowerment”, she added.

“In a world”, Maleeha Lodhi said, “where economies increasingly rely on sophisticated skills and well-trained citizens, my country considers education as an investment in its future”.

Describing education as an equalizer, a means of inclusion and a vehicle to address marginalization, the Pakistani envoy said that through programs such as Waseela-e-Taleem the government is trying to increase primary enrollment and provide basic education to all.

“This program has already benefited close to two million children across my country”, she added.

The Pakistani envoy told the 193- member Commission that Pakistan has also put in place robust results-based monitoring systems to evaluate progress on a wide range of strategies to ensure the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Maleeha Lodhi noted that despite reduction in income inequality between countries in the past three decades, wide disparities within and among countries persist, based on income, gender, age, race, religion disability and opportunity.

Lodhi concluded by expressing hope that discussions at the UN would help lead to the realization of the International community’s shared goals of eradicating poverty and ensuring social integration.