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Shazia Marri inaugurates BISP ‘Benazir Nashonuma Centre

KARACHI: Federal Minister for Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety and Chairperson BISP Shazia Atta Marri on Monday said that the government was cognizant of challenges being encountered by people, particularly the lower and middle-income class due to the present economic situation as various measures were being taken for easing their difficulties.

Shazia Marri was speaking to the media at the inauguration of Benazir Nashonuma Centre under Health and Nutrition Conditional Cash Transfer Program to prevent stunting growth, at Sindh Government Hospital, Shah Faisal Colony here.

The federal minister said that an enormous number of children were facing the issue of malnutrition and stunting around the country and BISP in collaboration with World Food Program had initiated the program.

Under the program 364 Nashonuma centres would be opened in 119 districts across the country, where pregnant women registered with BISP would be provided facilities of nutrition-rich food supplements, quarterly medical checkups, cash assistance and health guidance, the minister said. She further apprised that the outreach of the program would be further expanded in more districts as well.

She said that the project was initially piloted in the least developed districts of Thatta and Sujjawal and later expanded to 15 underdeveloped districts of the country. She apprised that now it was being launched nationwide to deal with issue of mother and child malnutrition that leads to immune efficiency and diseases.

Shazia Marri said that Sindh government was also contributing in the efforts, and it was not only supporting BISP’s Nashonuma program, but it had also initiated a program that would cover those women who were not registered with BISP.

The minister stressed other provinces to replicate the Sindh government’s measures so that maximum number of deserving women could be covered and issues of malnutrition and stunting could be addressed effectively.

Responding to a question on serious economic challenges, she said that PDM wore the thorny crown only in the best interest of the country and the nation and the coalition government was committed to resolving the issues but later on unprecedented floods aggravated the situation.

“Pakistan is facing grave repercussions of climate change that was a global issue and we are not only taking measures to deal with arising challenges but also raising the issue at the international level effectively,” she added.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, immediately after the flood disaster, provided Rs.70 billion to flood affectees through BISP and also sanctioned Rs.1 billion for nutrition program of BISP to assist the affected families, the minister said.

The incumbent government is determined to address all the issues being faced by nation and decision of seeking IMF’s assistance for economic stability was one of the difficult but inevitable step, she said adding that government would keep the interest of the country and the difficulties of the nation supreme while dealing with IMF.

Shazia Marri said that previous PTI government “devastated the economy, made extravagant expenditures on luxuries and committed corruption of billions of rupees”.

“Imran Khan is a narcissist who could not see beyond himself and used to malign others to cover up his own deficiencies and weakness, ” she alleged, while responding to another question adding that allegations on Asif Zardari were baseless as PPP, its leadership and workers themselves were affectees of terrorism.

On the other hand, “Imran Khan and PTI has always supported and promoted terrorism,” she held and demanded that Imran must tender an apology for is fabricated and flawed accusations on Asif Zardari.

On a question about blasphemous acts in Sweden, the federal minister condemned the act and urged European Union to take appropriate measures to prevent such acts which not only hurt the sentiments of millions of Muslims but all the democratic and politically aware citizens all around the world.

“We need to understand that the world needs tolerance and hurting others’ religious sentiments could not be termed as freedom of expression,” she maintained, adding that freedom of expression was not a license for hurting the sentiments of billions of Muslims.

Meanwhile, the federal minister at the occasion expressed deep sorrow and grief over the demise and martyrdom of citizens in road accidents and in a blast in Peshawar. She condemned the act of terrorism in Peshawar and said that Pakistani nation had rendered matchless sacrifices in the war against terrorism as the country was determined to root out the menace.

Speaking at the occasion, Sindh Minister for social welfare Sajid Jokhio said that malnutrition was the reason for the death of a number of children in the province, particularly in Tharparkar district and BISP’s program would help in addressing the issue.