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Should PTI change BISP’s name?


News Analysis |

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has lashed out at the government and Prime Minister Imran Khan after media reports claimed that the government is planning to change the name of the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP). A senior leader of PPP Mr. Khursheed Shah condemned any such move. He was addressing a ceremony in Sukkur when he angrily said that “if they want to remove Benazir’s name from the card, they can. But how will they remove her name from the hearts and minds of the people of Pakistan?” he asked.

The PPP leader also maintained that his leadership does not require any political card to seek public support. “Benazir’s politics don’t need any card. The announcement to remove her name in Sindh is [like] contempt of Sindh,” he claimed.

Adviser to Sindh chief minister, Barrister Murtaza Wahab, also condemned the government’s policy to change the name of the said program. He also reminded PM Khan that he is the Prime Minister, not a king.

The demand to change the name of BISP was reportedly made by Grand Democratic Alliance, the ally of PTI government in a meeting with PM Imran Khan at the residence of Ali Gohar Mahar.

“Someone shd explain 2 PM that there is a thing called Law & when law says Benazir Income Support Programme it cant b changed unless law is changed. Kaptaan ur the PM not the King plz try 2 understand law before making commitments. Remember u spoke of Rule of Law once upon a time,” he said.

BISP

It may be noted that the BISP was established in 2008 by PPP former Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani on the advice of former president Asif Ali Zardari and was named after Benazir Bhutto who was assassinated in 2007. The programme aims at facilitating needy people especially empowering women through monetary means.

PM Khan Hints to Change the Name

According to local media reports, PM Khan said that the government has decided to change the name of BISP. The demand to change the name of BISP was reportedly made by Grand Democratic Alliance, the ally of PTI government in a meeting with PM Imran Khan at the residence of Ali Gohar Mahar.

Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s Clarification

Shah Mehmood Qureshi, PTI’s Vice Chairman and Foreign Minister of Pakistan, rejected such reports and maintained that it was just an opinion of some opposition members and not a decision of the government. When asked Mr. Qureshi replied that certain members of the opposition in the Sindh Assembly, including members of the PTI, MQM-P and the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) had made a request to Prime Minister Imran Khan while he was visiting Ghotki on Saturday.

Read more: Naya Pakistan: PM Khan’s launches “Ehsaas” program for poor, women, and…

The foreign minister further explained that some members of the opposition in the province had recommended that the name be changed as they felt the programme had been “misused” by the PPP and its political activists, and that they also had raised “objections and concerns” to a survey that had been conducted under BISP earlier. However, he said, the changing of the name is a legislative matter and a legal process must be followed in this case.

It is pertinent to mention here that according to a report published in 2012, it was been pointed out that there was a disproportionate number of families receiving BISP aid in geographic areas where Pakistan People’s Party dominated. In the then Prime Minister’s hometown of Multan, there was twice the number of people receiving BISP payments than in Lahore, the opposition party, PMLN’s stronghold.

Prime Minister Khan launched Poverty Alleviation Program ‘Ehsaas’ on and informed the nation that ‘we are also making a new ministry which will be for social protection and poverty alleviation.’

Similarly, Punjab, another area where opposition parties dominated, had the lowest ratio of eligible families—1,974 for every 100,000 people; versus 6,829 families for every 100,000 people in Sindh, PPP’s stronghold.

PTI’s Ehsas Programme

PTI has also introduced a new federal policy to upgrade the lives of the poor across Pakistan. Ever since the PM assumed his office he has been vocal about the poverty alleviation. Prime Minister Khan launched Poverty Alleviation Program ‘Ehsaas’ on and informed the nation that ‘we are also making a new ministry which will be for social protection and poverty alleviation.’ PM Khan further told the nation that we are launching help programs for street children, and for transgender persons who are treated so cruelly in our society.

There will be a special crackdown on bonded labor. He also said that daily laborers will be helped and protected under our Tahaffuz program. Bait-Ul-Maal will fund homes for 10,000 orphaned children. Moreover, to help women, at village levels especially…we will empower them with livestock through which they can get milk, they could feed their kids.”

Read more: BISP collaborates with Nestlé to launch “Rural Livelihood Programme”

Analysts opine that the PTI should focus on Ehsaas and Sehat cards so that nobody claims a monopoly over the programme nor its name is used for narrow political interests.

However, social media also demanded the government to change the name of BISP since it was being exploited by the PPP for its political interests. A social media user said that “I’ve always been concerned about the name of #BenazirIncomeSupportProgram as #BenazirBhutto was just been a head of a political party nothing else. Second ths program has just been used by #PPP for political point scoring to it’s workers n awarded upon personal liking & disliking”.

Another Pakistani also made the same demand, saying, “name of #BISP #BenazirIncomeSupportProgram should be changed as it is a national program not restricted to #Sindh or for supporters of #PPP only #pti #Pakistan Reply”