Towards a welfare State
Courtesy:- Farzana Raja
All the challenges that the nation is facing today demand us to further understand the message, guiding principles and the vision of Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan. It is imperative to reshape the priorities to create a forward looking and progressive modern democracy as it was dreamt by our great leader. The nation needs to strive more to become a genuine democratic society as humanitarian democratic values were the conviction of our great political thinker and a matchless nation-builder. While looking back in the history, we can find the extraordinary characteristics of Quaid-i-Azam as an inspirational leader as well as an ardent and devout leader for whom, the welfare of the masses was prime objective of his movement. Personally, the Quaid not only followed a highly disciplined life but exhibited a spotless character, thus able to lead the nation towards unity, faith and discipline.
The struggle of our great Quaid was based on premise of a country that offers equal economic opportunities and social justice to all the population without any discrimination of caste, creed and color. The political insight of the Quaid resulted in carving out a nation from a subjugated and directionless minority besides establishing a modern nation state. Being a true demarcate, Mr. Jinnah prescribed democracy as the only way forward for the newly acquired country. Without any ambiguity, he made the priorities of the state clear right after the inception of Pakistan while stating that the government’s aim and objective should be to serve the people and devise ways and means for their social welfare, well-being and betterment. Regarding the democratic future of the Pakistan, Quid said that it is in the hands of people to put the government in power or remove it from power. This guiding principle of Quaid-i-Azam still serves as a source of strength for the democracy loving people of Pakistan. History is evident of the fact that Pakistan’s first democratically elected Prime Minister Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and his daughter Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto had laid down their life in the pursuit of the same mission and for the practical manifestation of the dreams of the Quaid.
It is pertinent to note here that the Quaid, as a great leader and statesman, also underpinned the significance of welfare of the people of Pakistan as future roadmap of the state. We must revisit his historic speech delivered on August 11, 1947 when he said that “if we want to make this great State of Pakistan happy and prosperous, we should wholly and solely concentrate on the well-being of the people, and especially of the masses and the poor.” Therefore, the dreams of Mr Jinnah revolved around a Pakistan that is an egalitarian modern democracy offering equity in the distribution of wealth and resources to enable the people of the country to live a happy, prosperous and meaningful life.
The vision of our Quaid has special significance as he had laid the foundation for the concept of an Islamic Social welfare state which is a need of our society and relevant as ever to strengthen the nation on the face of various contemporary challenges. We have observed that PPP has always actively followed the economic and social vision of Quaid-i-Azam and it is a hallmark of the economic policies of the PPP led Federal Government. Under the firm commitment and persistent support from President Asif Ali Zardari, the democratic government has successfully advanced the notions of social justice, equal opportunities and wellbeing of the people of Pakistan.
Besides the importance of equal opportunities, the Quaid had also highlighted the women empowerment as a fundamental requirement for the development and progress of any state or society. In this regard, he said that no struggle can ever succeed without women participating side by side with men. The democratic government has adopted the concept of welfare of the people as the only way forward to become a modern democratic in line with the guiding principles given by the founding father of the nation. Moreover, the empowerment of women, youth and children has also made the areas of prime focus under the same vision.
The welfare approach of the Government is based on a holistic approach to cater the needs of all the marginalized groups of the society. This approach also includes the realization of the phenomena of rising inflation, mounting unemployment, and diminishing opportunities as it has pushed a huge chunk of population down to poverty line and hence, countless economic woes for the millions of families. Therefore, despite various economic constraints, unprecedented steps have been taken to provide relief to marginalized segments of society that are worst hit by impacts of global economic turmoil during past few years. Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), in line with the welfare-based vision of the government, has been emerged as the key platform of serving millions of families in Pakistan that needed immediate relief and support.
The success and effectiveness of the Programme could be measured and evaluated by the fact that various prestigious international organizations, keeping the transparency, objectivity and effectiveness of the Programme, have posed their full trust and confidence. With regard to the concept of equality given by Quaid-i-Azam, BISP envisaged a fair and impartial selection criterion for all the deserving family to get registered with BISP. To bring positive socio-economic change in the lives of millions of deserving families, the Programme has introduced numerous innovative and unprecedented steps i.e. monthly cash grants, interest free micro-financing, vocational and technical training.
Moreover, besides Health Insurance and Life Insurance, BISP’s Waseela-e-Taleem initiative has been launched to promote education among the children of beneficiary families. While marking the 136th birthday of our great leader, we from the platform of BISP, deem it an absolutely perfect occasion to reinvigorate our commitment with the cause of empowering the people of Pakistan and to make the country a social welfare state as per the vision of the Quaid.