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THREE YEARS OF EHSAAS AND SUCCESSFUL DEPLOYMENT OF PROJECTS: PM TO CHAIR EVENT

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Prime Minister Imran Khan will chair the event tomorrow on three years of completion of Ehsaas. “Since its launch on March 27, 2019, myriad social protection and poverty alleviation programmes have successfully been deployed under the Ehsaas umbrella with 98% budget benefitting girls and women”, said Dr. Sania Nishtar. Presiding the event, PM will announce the roll out of Ehsaas Rashan Riayat that offers 30% subsidy on monthly basis to 20 million families.

The targeted subsidy programme will effectively lower the price for 3 essential commodities—wheat flour, cooking oil/ghee and pulses. It will disburse Rs. 106 billion in subsidies to 20 million eligible families (130 million people). In view of the globally induced recent price hike, Prime Minister has also announced the raise of Rs. 2,000 in Kafaalat stipend amount from Rs. 12,000 to Rs. 14,000 for eight million families. All these decisions have been taken to provide relief to masses.

Tomorrow, Kafaalat cash assistance worth Rs. 71 billion is also being deployed in the field. Over three years, the programme provided Ehsaas cash to almost half the country’s population. Ehsaas School Stipend programme aspires to benefit 10 million children aged 4 to 22 years. Girls in all grades get a higher stipend amount. 200,000 need- cum-merit based Ehsaas undergraduate scholarships are being provided to students from low-income backgrounds.

In line with PM’ vision to tackle stunting, 160 Ehsaas Nashonuma Centers are opening across all districts. One Window Ehsaas Centers are also being upscaled nationwide to integrate all Ehsaas services under one roof in each district. The National Poverty Graduation Initiative of Ehsaas includes interest free loans and small livelihood assets for poverty graduation of 3.8 million families.

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Under PM’s Mazdoor Ka Ehsaas, a nationwide network of model Panagahs, Langars, truck kitchens and orphanages has also been established to serve the daily wage earners with dignity. Ensuring that social protection stipends of the government serve the most deserving, Ehsaas completed the National Socio-economic Survey Registry with 34.41 million families which is South Asia’s first digital survey.

The World Bank recognized Ehsaas emergency Cash as the fastest cash transfer programme worldwide amid COVID-19. According to Sir Michael Barber, the technology and data driven execution of Ehsaas has shifted the governance paradigm in the country from, “Politics of patronage to politics of performance”.

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Human Rights

Commemorating Human Rights Day: False consolation for Kashmiris

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Today, on December 10, 2023, the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is being celebrated. December 10 commemorates the day in 1948 when the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Mr Antonio Guterres, the United Nations Secretary-General said, “Human rights are the foundation for human dignity, and the cornerstone of peaceful, inclusive, fair, equal and prosperous societies…They are a unifying force and a rallying cry. They reflect the most fundamental thing we share – our common humanity.” 

Dr. Volker Türk, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said, “On this Human Rights Day, we reaffirm the universality and indivisibility of all rights, as we stand up for human rights for all.”  He added, “Human rights is a force to reckon with, not because it serves the interests of the powerful, but because it has captured the imagination of the powerless…And so I will endeavour to promote advances in all human rights, without distinction, in every region, and across all UN activities.”

Besides, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the world body has adopted the ‘Geneva Convention’ its ‘Additional Protocols’, (1949)  and International Criminal Court (ICC) (1998) for a single purpose: to defend protect, and safeguard the human rights of all. The basic human rights provisions of the Geneva Conventions including the ones protected under Common Article 3 of the conventions are non-derogable in the sense that they must be respected even in times of international and non-international conflicts, international disturbances, and foreign occupations.

The preamble of the ICC states that ICC is “mindful that during this century millions of children, women, and men have been victims of unimaginable atrocities that deeply shock the conscience of humanity” and “recognizing that such crimes threaten the peace, security and well-being of the world.”
 

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Tragically, civilized nations have fallen from their lofty calling: namely, human rights for all mankind. There is a sad commentary on the state of human rights all over the globe. It is the job of all human rights defenders to jump-start that moral evolution.

George Bernard Shaw, world renowned political philosopher was prophetic when he said in 1940’s “Only on paper has humanity yet achieved glory, beauty, truth, knowledge, virtue, and abiding love.”
 

The presence of the ‘Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ ICC and other human rights instruments offers no consolation for the people of Kashmir because its framers have not lived up to its spirit, at least applying it selectively to suit the objectives of certain powers.

The people of Kashmir are perplexed as to how to interpret such joi de vivre. Over seventy-five years have elapsed since the adoption of this Declaration, but the people of Kashmir have not seen an iota of change in the human rights situation in Kashmir. For worse may be but never for the better. The latest phenomenon of settler colonial project has brought Kashmir to the brink of genocide, as articulated by Dr. Gregory Stanton, Chairman, of Genocide Watch before the United States Congress on January 12, 2022. Such international treaties are meaningless for the people of Kashmir, or Palestine or for any other people who do not see their application, or even a negative mention to those who ride roughshod over them with total impunity while enjoying the good graces of some of the members of the world community to aspire to a high moral station above others. 

According to the definition of ICC, tens of thousands of Indian soldiers and scores of India officials are guilty of crimes against humanity in Kashmir. The crimes committed by 900,000 Indian military and paramilitary forces in Kashmir are a daily feature of Kashmiri life. According to Arundhati Roy, India’s legendary novelist, the 900,000 Indian soldiers have made Kashmir the largest militarized zone in the world. Indian army has organized and employed violence against civilians to create deep fear among the general population to advance the political and religious agenda of a Hindutva ideology. Does anyone seriously believe that Under ICC Statue, a single Indian soldier or an official would ever be prosecuted before the ICC? Of course NOT. India has sneered at international law for decades and the international community has just yawned.
  
Too often, the international community closes its eyes to the brutal reality of Kashmir because of India’s hegemony in South Asia and its potentially attractive consumer market.  As a consequence, the moral suasion that could jolt India into recognizing its international law obligation to accede to self‑determination in Kashmir is blunted. 

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The world body and saner elements in American policy agencies should take a leaf out of the warning of Arundhati Roy, “Kashmir is the real theatre of unspeakable violence and moral corrosion that can spin us into violence and nuclear war at any moment. To prevent that from happening, the conflict in Kashmir has to be addressed and resolved.” Huff Post, Mar 1, 2019

We call upon the United Nations to use its influence in putting an end of human rights violations especially when the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is being celebrated with great pomp. The UN needs to do more than celebrate anniversaries if it is concerned about ensuring peace, stability and security in South Asia.

Dr. Fai is Secretary General, World Kashmir Awareness Forum. He can be reached at: [email protected] www.kashmirawareness.org

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