Yasrab Iftikhar-Naeem Niazi
LAHORE, Apr 25 (APP):Islamic teachings stress upon helping the poor strata of society to maintain dignity and respect besides promoting spirit of tranquility, love, brotherhood, generosity and sacrifice in society. The societal and economic development of a society is dependent on provision of equal living standards to all segments of society, especially for the under-privileged, deprived and living below the poverty line. Inspired by the state of Madina (Riyasat e Madina established by the holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) in which affluent Ansar (locals) helped the needy migrants from Makkah for an equal and prosperous society), Prime Minister Imran Khan, soon after assuming power in 2018, founded Shelter Homes (Panahgahs) Programme to provide honorable shelters to the destitute, less privileged maintain respect and the homeless who had to spend nights under the open skies and were exposed to the vagaries of weather and slept hungry.
The foundation of the project was laid on November 10, 2018.
Prime Minister Imran Khan while inaugurating the project said that the project was the most important project among the top priorities of the Pakistan Tehreek e Insaaf (PTI) government. The Premier said said it was his cherished dream to provide shelter homes to the needy and homeless people and setting up of ‘Panahgahs’. He said it was a practical step towards the making of a society like Riyasat-e-Madina, adding that the initiative would pave the way for economic development besides providing respectful living facilities to a worker, passenger and homeless people. As per 2017 census, country’s population was approximately 220 million and out of which 20 million population comprises homeless and the under-privileged.Video Player00:0000:59
In such circumstances ‘Shelter Home’ is a programme of social welfare and societal development and fulfillment of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s cherished dream of a welfare state which provides respectful living to the homeless people. Currently, there are six Shelter Homes in the provincial capital which include one at Bhaati Gate, at fruit market, Railway Station, Lorry Adda, Thokar Niaz baig and Gulberg. These shelter homes
are serving the needy people. Those staying at these shelter homes are getting various facilities like quality food, security, one bed and breakfast. To ensure proper security arrangements cameras are installed which operate around the clock. Cleanliness is ensured in Panahgahs. Other facilities include neat and clean bed, hot water in winters, attach bathrooms, clothes washing facilities and each ‘Panahgah’ had one Mosque in it. Medical teams provide free healthcare facilities to those who stay in these shelter homes.Video Player00:0000:41
Provincial Minister for Social Welfare and Baitul Maal Syed Yawar Abbas Bukhari said it was
top priority of the PTI government to serve the deserving segments of the society.
He said that Prime Minister Imran Khan was making sincere efforts for the prosperity and development of the country. The minister said that the purpose of setting up shelter homes was to provide living facilities to the needy and homeless people.He further said during the past two winters and severe weather conditions, the Punjab government had set up 92 temporary ‘Panahgahs’ in 36 districts of the province. Syed Yawar said the incumbent government had announced to expand the horizon of this project to other big cities.
This project of PTI government was being appreciated at national and international levels, he added.He said the project was a practical step towards the 2025 vision of the present government aimed at social welfare, adding that it would enable to promote societal justice and equality in the society.Video Player00:0001:03
Social Welfare Officer Bhati Gate Panagah Abdul Rehman told APP that they had a capacity of 16 beds for 142 men and women. Seven halls were for men while two for women, he added. He further said that a proper mechanism was followed to keep deserving in ‘Panahgahs’.Keeping in view the coronavirus standard operating procedures (SOPs) the health of those coming to stay in shelter homes was checked at first, he added.Those who arrive at shelter homes were provided with face mask before entry and their original
national identity card was checked.He further said that complete data was saved in computer and then a card containing bed number was issued. Inmate was first taken to duty officer for thumb impression and picture where the officer save all the data in database.He said that old and sick people were given priority for accommodation in “Panahgah” and they were provided beds near to washrooms.It is pertinent to mention here that Board of Directors were running shelter homes project under public private partnership model.Elaborating on the concept of shelter homes, the minister said these shelter homes were not permanent place to live but wayfarers and needy people could stay here for maximum three nights.During their stay after every twenty four hours they could eat two meals, he maintained.Abdul Rehman said that “Naya Pakistan” housing project had also been launched by Prime Minister Imran Khan and added that the initiative would help citizens to get their homes on permanent basis.Video Player00:0001:27
Hamza, staying at a Panahgah near Data Darbar said he hailed from Kehror Pakka – a tehsil in Lodhran district. He said he came to Lahore for labour and was residing in Panahgah near Data Darbar. Hamza expressed satisfaction over the facilities being provided in the shelter home, adding that Pakistan Baitul Maal had ensured the best cleanliness arrangements in the shelter homes while the staff was very cooperative.He said, earlier poor people used to spend nights on footpaths in severe weather conditions before Prime Minister Imran Khan decided to set up Panahgahs but now they sleep in neat and
clean beds.He said being recipients of a generous facility by the state, it was responsibility of the dwellers here to abide by the rules and regulations of the shelter homes and follow coronavirus SOPs in letter and spirit.ALSO READ PM says battle for soul of Pakistan to succeed soon
Sher Ali, a labourer from Quetta said his heart goes for the PTI government for providing best living facilities to the poor in the shelter homes, adding that nobody could return the goodness of the government. He said no such example was found of such welfare project by the past regimes.
The founding of ‘Panahgahs’ is the right step towards establishing a welfare state on the model of State of Madina besides ensuring a benevolent and just society which takes care of the poor and destitute.