By Imtiaz Ali
Karachi: Seventy per cent of the women in Sindh have not seen one thousand rupees in their entire lives, and when people look towards the highrises of Karachi, they should not forget the slum areas where millions live in poverty, Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah said on Tuesday while addressing the “Meet the Press” at the Karachi Press Club (KPC).
Fifty per cent of Sindh is comprised of arid deserts, where extreme poverty persists, he said. People are not only committing suicide themselves but they are also killing their children to avoid the miseries arising out of poverty and unemployment. Shah also performed the balloting for 467 plots for journalists; each KPC member received 400 yards in the Hawkesbay scheme.
The CM also announced that the Sindh government will give Rs1,000 each to 500,000 women from next month; Rs4.5 billion have been reserved for this purpose. “You can gauge the happiness of women who have never seen Rs1,000 in their entire lives. We want to strengthen women socially and economically because that will lead to development in the province and the country,” Shah said, adding that the federal government will also spend Rs70 billion for seven million women under the Benazir Bhutto Income Support Programme.
Terrorism is the most pressing issue in the country right now, but “these elements” are not talking about it, Shah claimed. “They are also talking less about sacrifices and providing support to armed forces to fight against the terrorists,” he said.
The government has provided facilities to law-enforcement agencies and compensation for policemen killed in encounters has been increased to Rs1 million, he said. In one incident, 10 dacoits were killed in an encounter in the province, which has strengthened the resolve of the police, Shah said, adding that successful encounters were acting as “deterrents” against criminals and terrorists. He further said that “known terrorists” had been arrested recently at the border areas of Sindh “due to the diligence and alertness of the police”, who also foiled the terrorists’ bid to target oil installations in Karachi.
Shah said that the government’s efforts over 1.5 years regarding the National Finance Commission (NFC) Award have produced good results. One nationalist leader criticised the Sindh government now, but his own father had signed the NFC award in 1997 in the capacity of caretaker chief minister, even though it was beyond his mandate, the CM said.
“This criticism from nationalist groups is nothing more than Â‘jealousy’, because the present government has received encouraging signs about the NFC award,” Shah maintained.
He said that for the first time in 35 years, multiple criteria for the NFC Award have been agreed upon, while the Centre has accepted that collecting general sales tax on services was a provincial subject. Seeking agreement over these issues from other provinces, especially Punjab, as well as the Centre, was “not an easy thing,” he said.
Shah further said that 45,000 people have been given jobs as part of the Sindh government’s efforts in the social and employment sectors, while 50,000 young people are being trained. They are being provided with Rs4,000 to Rs7,000 each during the training period. Moreover, around 700,000 to 900,000 women were getting benefits under the Benazir Bhutto Income Support Programme, he said.
Shah said that when he took charge as chief minister, around 4,000 primary schools were closed, out of which over 2,000 have now been made functional. Basic and rural health centres have also been made functional while perceptible improvements can be seen at the province’s biggest Civil Hospital in Karachi as compared to the past, he claimed.
He hoped that within five years, the PPP government could bring “significant reduction” in levels of poverty, unemployment and illiteracy. Shah also recalled that it was under the government of Z.A Bhutto that journalists were provided plots, followed by Benazir Bhutto’s government. “Now they are being plots again under the PPP government, which is following its policy of Â‘Roti, Kapra Aur MakaanÂ’,” he said. Local Government Minister Agha Siraj Durrani, Information Minister Shazia Marri, KPC president Imtiaz Faran, KPC Secretary A.H Khanzada and others also spoke.
Source: The News