Sherry Rehman prods Pak­istan-amer­i­cans to help re­alise bet­ter fu­ture for chil­dren

The Pak Banker - - Front Page -

WASH­ING­TON

Pak­istan has launched a se­ries of pro­grams to re­al­ize em­pow­er­ment, ed­u­ca­tion and health­care for its chil­dren and di­as­pora's par­tic­i­pa­tion in this en­deavor would bol­ster the coun­try's progress to­wards that end, Am­bas­sador to the United States Sherry Rehman said.

The am­bas­sador told a gath­er­ing of community lead­ers, women ac­tivists, phi­lan­thropists and en­trepreneurs that the Pak­istan's gov­ern­ment and peo­ple are bravely de­fy­ing im­pli­ca­tions of a lin­ger­ing re­gional con­flict and fo­cus­ing on so­cio-eco­nomic up­lift of the poor.

In this re­spect, she re­ferred to pro­grams like Be­nazir In­come Sup­port Fund that seek to pull the peo­ple out of poverty trap but said the coun­try would have to strive for a long time to en­sure wel­fare of the en­tire younger gen­er­a­tion and vul­ner­a­ble seg­ments like women and mi­nori­ties.

Ms Rehman, who has been a long­time ad­vo­cate for rights of women, chil­dren and mi­nori­ties, ap­pre­ci­ated the spirit the Pak­istani-Amer­i­cans have shown in as­sist­ing the work of SOS Chil­dren's Vil­lages and other ed­u­ca­tion and health­care pro­grams.

"Around 60 per­cent of Pak­istan's pop­u­la­tion is aged un­der 30 --- by giv­ing them ac­cess to ed­u­ca­tion and health, you are help­ing Pak­istan to turn the de­mo­graphic chal­lenge into an op­por­tu­nity --your sup­port is valu­able and you are help­ing give Pak­istani kids a bright fu­ture."

Am­bas­sador Rehman ap­prised the gath­er­ing of Pak­istan's demo­cratic progress and up­com­ing peace­ful demo­cratic tran­si­tion upon com­ple­tion of the elected gov­ern­ment's five-year term, me­dia free­dom, the re­silience of the peo­ple, the strength of the civil so­ci­ety and in­de­pen­dence of ju­di­ciary, say­ing the coun­try is go­ing through a his­toric tran­si­tion.

"In Pak­istan, we have fi­nally achieved af­ter much sac­ri­fice and suf­fer­ing a po­lit­i­cal democ­racy. We are about to wit­ness the first elected gov­ern­ment make a peace­ful tran­si­tion fol­low­ing elec­tions. This is a mon­u­men­tal achieve­ment but we are cer­tainly not rest­ing on our lau­rels. If you ask me, our work is just be­gun". She noted that em­pow­er­ment is not de­fined by po­lit­i­cal val­ues alone but also equally de­fined by eco­nomic and so­cial val­ues. "Un­til ev­ery man, woman and child has equal ac­cess to op­por­tu­nity, our work can­not be fin­ished".

For its part, the gov­ern­ment has taken sev­eral ini­tia- tives to em­power fam­i­lies and women, es­pe­cially ru­ral women, to in­vest in self­em­ploy­ment projects and small busi­nesses. Am­bas­sador Rehman cited the in­spir­ing story of Malala Yousafzai, the

teenaged school­girl from Swat, who is now re­cov­er­ing from a mil­i­tant at­tack on her for ad­vo­cat­ing girls' right to an ed­u­ca­tion. Malala per­son­i­fies hope, the en­voy said.

"This can-do spirit and de­ter­mi­na­tion is per­va­sive in our youth, and gives me hope for the fu­ture of our coun­try". The am­bas­sador said her men­tor, Sha­heed Mo­htarma Be­nazir Bhutto, was com­mit­ted to pro­vid­ing a level-play­ing field for all Pak­ista­nis. "And though we have come far, we have much to do to ful­fill her vi­sion for Pak­istan".

Sherry Rehman par­tic­u­larly praised ef­forts by women ac­tivists in­clud­ing Rukhsana Rah­man, Shaista Mah­mood, Tahira Chaudhry, Tazeen Hashmi, Safia Naz and Shela Qa­mar in or­ga­niz­ing the event for cause of SOS Chil­dren's Vil­lage.

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