Pakistan Institute of Development Economics

P & R Vol.2 Issue 4
Ehsaas – Creating Impact in the Lives of the Most Vulnerable
Publication Year : 2021

Poverty and inequity have walked hand-in-hand in Pakistan for decades. When the new government, led by Prime Minister Imran Khan, came into power in August 2018, he articulated in a nationally televised address an ambitious vision for Pakistan – to become a true welfare state, “where equal opportunity exists for all and social welfare is provided to all those who need it.” Modelled on the ideology of Riasat-e-Madina (the historic archetype of an Islamic welfare state in the 7th century), the government launched its flagship social protection program Ehsaas – the country’s largest effort towards poverty alleviation and the cornerstone of the Prime Minister’s vision for a prosperous Pakistan. For a country where almost a quarter of the population lives in poverty, such a goal represented not just an ambitious dream but a necessary shift in policy. Historically, nations that invest in social protection have been shown to reduce poverty while sharing wealth equitably amongst society. Hence, when Ehsaas was launched, it signified that Pakistan was not just looking at quick wins but was serious about breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty and investing in a long-term poverty eradication strategy.