Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan Image Credit: PID

Islamabad: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday announced the launch of 3G/4G Internet service, new scholarships and health insurance for the people of Waziristan.

Addressing a gathering in South Waziristan, PM Imran Khan said the launch of high-speed Internet and other social-economic development projects are aimed at “uplifting the underprivileged areas” of the merged tribal districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and to “provide the best education, health and employment opportunities” to the local people. The new facilities are in line with the government’s policy to develop the tribal areas that once suffered from terrorism due to close proximity with Afghanistan.

Broadband service

During his visit, PM Khan announced the immediate launch of 3G and 4G Internet service – one of the major demands of youth of the region. The premier explained that the delay was due to security reasons but the government has decided to introduce the service as it was essential for education and development.

Health insurance

Khan also announced that each family in Waziristan would be provided health insurance cards covering up to Rs. 700,000 (US$4360) that would allow them to avail medical treatment at any hospital.

Olive revolution

Imran Khan also mentioned in his speech the “olive revolution” in the region. “This is the best place for plantation of olives in Pakistan” he said, adding that suitable olive farming policies would bring social, environmental and economic benefits to the region.

Welfare programme to benefit 25% population this year

Assuring the people that the government was fully committed to their welfare, Khan also launched a social protection project called Ehsaas Kafaalat programme which includes monthly cash stipends of Rs2000 for poorest women, 50,000 need-based scholarships, interest-free loans, and cash support for low-income families. “This is the first time the population of the district will benefit from a transparent and rule-based social safety programme” that will build the foundation of wide-ranging social welfare initiatives, said the premier’s special assistant Dr Sania Nishtar who is leading the country’s social safety net projects. The project will “benefit more than 25 per cent population of South Waziristan in 2021”, said Nishtar. At least 100 artificial limbs to people affected by bomb/mine blasts in South Waziristan will also be provided under the project.

Education and scholarships

The prime minister in his speech noted that approximately 70 per cent of the population of Waziristan lived below the poverty line, which is why Ehsaas financial assistance and scholarship programs have been launched to improve living standards in the region. The premier also vowed to build new schools, colleges and even universities in the former FATA region so that students don’t have to travel to other cities for education.