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Look who were availing Pakistan’s income support scheme for women — male govt officers

Evaluation of the scheme has found that over 8 lakh undeserving beneficiaries out of the 5.4 million were fraudulently claiming the handouts.

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New Delhi: In 2008, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) government had launched the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) — a first-of-its-kind policy providing cash transfers to widows and divorced women heading a family without a male earning member. 

The PPP government was much lauded at that time for taking concrete steps to mitigate the effects of poverty on women having no source of income.

But an evaluation of the programme now has found that over 8 lakh “undeserving” beneficiaries out of the 5.4 million were fraudulently claiming the handouts — among them were senior (and male) government officials.

Even though a Senate committee is working to remove the ineligible officers from the list and include the genuine beneficiaries, the government decided Tuesday not to publicly name the officials claiming the handouts to “prevent their public humiliation”.

The Senate panel was informed that in hundreds of these fraudulent cases, a thumbprint impression was used instead of signatures to collect the money.

“We are investigating the cases of money being received through postal offices,” said the secretary of the government’s poverty alleviation and social protection department.

Asia Bibi resurfaces ahead of book launch

Asia Bibi, the woman who had been on death row for eight years in Pakistan on charges of blasphemy, has released her photos in exile ahead of the launch of her autobiography Wednesday.

A Christian woman from the Punjab province of Pakistan, Bibi was convicted of blasphemy in 2010 after she made some remarks on Prophet Muhammed — an offence punishable by death in the country.

The Pakistan Supreme Court, however, struck down the death sentence in 2018 and she was finally allowed to leave the country last year.

Bibi then moved to Canada and has kept a low profile because she claims to still receive death threats.

Her book ‘Free At Last’ has been written in French with journalist Anne-Isabelle Tollet, who had become a campaigner for Bibi’s freedom, and also wrote two books about her high-profile case.

Also read: Pay tax — Pakistan PM Imran Khan appeals to business leaders after fulfilling demands

Govt battling comeback of poliovirus type 2

Over 4 million children are due to be vaccinated against the poliovirus type 2 during a three-day special drive launched Wednesday

The World Health Organization is overlooking the three-day programme, which will take place across 15 districts in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

The virus had been eradicated worldwide in 1999 due to which the vaccine was withdrawn from the polio vaccination programme in 2016. But poliovirus type 2 cases made a comeback two weeks ago in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

As many as 18 children have tested positive for the virus since October 2019 — 12 of them from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa in the last two weeks — prompting the authorities into swift action. 

Proposal to regulate TV & OTT content rejected

Digital rights activists have “categorically rejected” a proposal by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulation Authority (PEMRA) to regulate the content of television and Over-The-Top services.

According to Dawn, the PEMRA proposal includes “a number of regulatory guidelines, including licensing, inspection, content regulation and putting a complaint handling mechanism in place for web TV and Over the Top TV (OTT) platforms”.

The activists put out a statement Tuesday, saying “these newly proposed regulations and measures, through publicised and unpublicised versions of drafts, can and will be used to censor online content and curb freedom of expression and right to information of media practitioners and citizens”.

The PEMRA, meanwhile, had invited comments on the proposal by 14 February. 

Also read: ‘No lipstick on campus’ — a ban Pakistan university had to lift after outcry


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