Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan had pledged that his party wanted to eradicate poverty.
This was stated by Khan while speaking at a public gathering organised by the PTI here to celebrate Diwali back in November 2015.
“For us Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is a test-case where we will prove that we can provide basic amenities to people and improve their living standards,” Khan had vowed.
Truth Tracker tried to contact Shah Farman, minister for Public Health Engineering, who could not be reached for comments.
But when contacted, Arif Yousaf, a PTI lawmaker and special assistant to chief minister on law, who said that he was not the right person to talk on the subject but he sebsequently said that he had taken up the issue with Khan regarding ministers and PTI lawmakers who didn’t attend or return phone calls.
However, he only said the PTI has given a three years policy on food security (poverty alleviation) for which a lion share has been allocated in the budget.
He said the provincial government has adopted all available options to improve entire areas specifically the health and education sectors.
“Changes don’t take place instantly but I’m sure the outcome of the PTI-led government will be visible with the passage of time,” he added. Efforts, he said are on for greater economic activities in the province.
Sayed Jaffar Shah, Member Provincial Assembly (MPA) and a stalwart of Awami National Party (ANP), while commenting on Khan’s statement of poverty eradiction, said that that statement seems correct to the extent of social media and official papers but he saw nothing a sort like that on the ground since PTI has assumed power in the province.
Has the PTI honoured any of its promise, he asked.
“Look, our ranking in human development index since last three years has surged to 149 from 146, which is an alarming situation for the country,” Shah observed.
In addition, he said the province is experiencing rampant poverty with no imminent end to the menace in near future. “Our poverty ratio has touched the figure of 59%, which was 33% earlier,” he recalled.
Malik Riaz, an KP MPA from Jamiat Ulama-e-Islam (JUI-F), said that poverty ratio has increased instead in the tenure of PTI. “Poverty can be alleviated if you have established new industries and put in place other development projects but we don’t see hectic development activities here so what criteria the PTI has to banish the scourge of poverty,” he added.
Inflation has multiplied the problems of poor people and did the changes the PTI has been claiming minimize the woes of masses, he questioned.
“To be very frank, apart from political differences or rivalry, I never observed the graph of poverty has gone down during the PTI rule,” Riaz remarked.
He said that he didn’t observe any positive change in the living standard of common people on the street and questioned on what ground the PTI claims of poverty alleviation.
Sahibzada Sanaullah, another MPA from Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), said he doesn’t think the PTI has done any commendable job to alleviate poverty in the province or improve the life of labour class.
For poverty eradication, he said only the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) is still working otherwise the PTI has no contribution to overcome the menace of poverty.
“I personally neither heard nor saw that the PTI has anything on the ground to eradicate poverty,” he added.
Main Ziau Rehman, an MPA from Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), said he has the witness of PTI’s poverty eradication pledge but the provincial government has done nothing practically in this sector.
“The PTI has raised perks and privileges of lawmakers but no step could be taken to improve the living standard of poor segments of society,” he noted.
He expressed commitment he would fully support PTI if they take some popular decisions to facilitate the masses but only commitments, pledges and promises would not change the prevailing critical situations without taking solid steps.
“Where the world stands today, scientific experiments are taking place and countries are signing agreements in the field of science and technology while the PTI-led government is inking agreement for exporting donkeys to China,” Rehman rued.
Riaz Khan, a senior journalist and an independent analyst, told Truth Tracker that any government needs to ensure provision of jobs’ opportunities for poverty alleviation but such kinds of activities could not be observed in the province.
Secondly, he said that launch of collective projects or schemes for public welfare are mandatory to eradicate poverty and improve the economic condition of downtrodden people of society.
Thirdly, Khan said that for poverty alleviation any government is needed to adopt austerity measures to cut its non-productive expenditures, which would for sure lead to collective well being of the masses.
Referring to last year budget, he recalled the PTI government had spent only 31% of the PSDP and the rest would lapse automatically.
“How will poverty be eradicated when they (PTI) cannot spend their budget judiciously,” Khan questioned.
The PTI, he said has four fertile areas in KP where there are industrial estates and majority of industrial units are closed and the manpower is working on contract basis there.
In addition, he said pharmaceutical units where mostly women are working present a very grim picture.
“Keeping view of all these indicators, it is easy to judge poverty has increased instead. I don’t think poverty has been eradicated,” Khan stated.
In light of interviews and discussion with ruling, opposition lawmakers and independent analyst, Truth Tracker rules that the PTI pledge to alleviate poverty in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province stands broken.