A saving hand

Aurang Zeb Khan

Nowadays, following the social distancing due to the outbreak of disease Covid-19, I was wondering what to write and say, and suddenly came into my mind the Prime Minister Imran Khan’s “Ehsaas Emergency Cash Program” which, Due to the epidemic of Covid-19, came into existence to help the poor peoples of Pakistan in this difficult time. It is of utmost importance to announce on this occasion this program, which was launched under the supervision of SAPM and Chairperson for the BISP Dr. Sania Nishtar, Before explaining the importance and transparency of this program, if a little introduction of Nishtar is not made on this occasion, then it would be a complete abuse of it.

Dr. Sania Nishtar is not an introvert, you will in the list of the best physicians, cardiologists, writers and activists in Pakistan. She did a doctorate degree in medicine from King’s College London, was also awarded with Sitara-e-Imtiaz and Global Innovation Award and was admitted the Medical Mission Hall of Fame in Toledo, Ohio in 2011. Most of her expertise are in the fields of health, science and governance, having worked with government agencies and non-governmental organizations in various fields of health. In Pakistan, she is well known for her works and efforts in health development. Dr. Sania Nishtar, who is well-informed and experienced with the latest scientific requirements, has been the Federal Minister for Science and Technology, Education and Trainings and Information Technology and Telcom in the caretaker government of 2013. Having much experience in modern scientific studies, In the beginning of 2014, she was mentioned in the Top-20 List of ‘Most Influential Women in Science in the Islamic World’ by the Muslim Scientists List in recognition of her policy advocacy contributions and, in 2019, its alma mater Kings College, Lindon, awarded her for a doctorate in science with “Honoris Causa”.

Following a brief introduction, now let me write a few words on the transparency and importance of the program, Dr. Sania Nishtar was appointed Special Assistant to Prime Minister Imran Khan in May 2019 on Poverty Alleviation and the Social Safety Net. In that role she is leading the Ehsaas, which includes a multi-ethnic poverty alleviation and welfare program for Pakistan, which has more than 100 policies, including the Ehsaas Emergency Cash Program. As soon as she took charge, she immediately started working to make the Benazir Income Support Program transparent and, in a short time, expelled 8 million 20,000 unqualified people from the program, including senior officers in large positions, who has been benefiting from this program for over ten years. She has created a great profiling standard for ensuring merit and transparency after deliberation and putting it in the database. Then, the total beneficiary’s national identity card numbers were filtered from the database by which the unauthorized persons were removed. First of all, excluded federal and provincial government employees and their spouses who were on their payroll. Then expelled the people who travelled abroad, such as for Hajj and Umrah, or the overseas Pakistani or their spouces. Then excluded people who had one or more vehicles registered against their name or spouces name. Those people who had their own or their spouces average monthly PTCL or mobile bill more than a thousand were excluded from the program. It also excluded those who themselves or their spouce had applied passport via executive centers. And also excluded people whose family members has three or more applied CNIC with executive fee. These were the people who were not fully qualified for the program. If the common man thought even that much, I think they would know that the people who were brought under the formula were not eligible for the program at all. This system was first applied to the Benazir Income Support Programme and is now used in the Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme.

In addition, to make the program more transparent, another excellent system was introduced by updating the database and launching an SMS campaign and then passing the SMS to the database. The first in this system, CNIC numbers are filterd for the incorrect and correct, then it filters through the system applied to the previous program, after which, from the socioeconomic data for a score of 16.7 to 26 is considered qualified candidate. In this program priority is given to the male as there are more affected men on this occasion. After all this, any person who considers himself eligible and is disqualified from the program getting the message to contact the district administration, then the district administration has made a very good system for this. The local committees have been formed under the supervision of Halka Patwari, which includes the Village Council Secretary, Imam Mosque and the school head teacher. After that person’s name and ID card number is entered in the provincial database, that person can also apply online on the address ehsaas.nadra.gov.pk. After all this process, the Center will send total data to the provinces and then the province will match the data collected from its district administration to the provincial database and select the eligible persons, which will be about 3.5 million.

The program is divided into three sections and three types of family can benefit from it. The first 4.5 million people have been funded by the existing Kafalat scheme, which was previously known as the Benazir Income Support Programme. The next 4 million people will be selected through the new Socio Economic Data, having a score 16.7 to 26, and the third 3.5 million people will selected by districts. With the Ehsaas Emergency Cash Program, the number of beneficiarie famalies will soon be 12 million and the total beneficiaries will be 70 million. In this, Nishtar has endeavored to add as many deserving people to the program as possible. Almost 80 percent of the people whose CNIC number, I, myself sent on 8171, themselves or their partners have received an SMS of eligibility for the Ehsaas Emergency Cash Program, and those who remain, the district administration is collecting and processing their data, and online applications are also available for them. Insha Allah, they will soon be eligible for this program.

Lastly, I want to give credit to the Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan for all the program as he, at the right time has sat a very capable woman on a right position. I remember that in one of the programs Imran Khan told Dr. Sania Nishtar that you didn’t have to panic because these tasks are very difficult and we all know that every Pakistani institution has a great mafia. So he was already warning Dr. Sania Nishtar that you should not panic and now she is fighting it boldly and will have to make even more difficult decisions which she will boldly face. We hope that they are going to execute every program of Ehsaas with good faith and a strong sense of transparency and merit.