Pakistan pushing to bring poor into development mainstream: Masood Khan tells the UN Commission for Social development

Founder Editor Tazeen Akhtar..

UNITED NATIONS, Feb 13 (APP): Pakistan on Tuesday told the United Nations of its efforts to bring the poor and socially marginalized into the development mainstream that sharply focuses on empowerment of women, minorities, youth and the disabled.

"Despite massive and devastating floods, and the continuing challenges of countering terrorism, the government of Pakistan has focused on pro-poor policies and economic growth," Pakistan's UN Ambassador Masood Khan told the UN Commission for Social development, one of ten bodies established by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) to advise and assist it in carrying its work.

"Our development programme builds on the important link between empowerment and poverty eradication, social integration, full employment and decent work for all," he said in a general debate.

He cited the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) as Pakistan's pioneer social protection programme, which is a cash-transfer programme focusing on empowerment of women, provision of basic services and investment in human development. Eligible households are identified on the basis of a "poverty scorecard" survey, the provision of financial assistance to widows, orphans and the disabled; benefits and pensions for the elderly; and efforts to integrate the expanding and increasingly youthful labour force by providing jobs and decent work, as well as vocational and technical training.

Ambassador Masood Khan said empowerment required the creation of legal frameworks for social protection, as well as enabling environments and formal institutional structures. Once those measures were taken, it was important to measure and monitor progress. Investing in livelihoods, education, health and housing was the best ways to boost poverty eradication, he said, adding that legislation seeking to support and improve the representation of marginalized groups in decision-making processes was vital.

"Development assistance, debt-relief, market access, capacity building and fair and non-discriminatory multilateral trading system remain relevant and important for collective growth with equity and sustainable development," the Pakistani envoy said.