Pakistan becomes one of the most urbanised nation in South Asia


ISLAMABAD: (APP) Minister of State and Chairperson Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) Marvi Memon has said that Pakistan will fully support new UN agenda of urban habitat for sustainable urbanization.

The minister expressed these views while representing Pakistan as head of the delegation of NDI on Global Women's Leadership Program at Surabaya Indonesia for the third session of the Preparatory Committee for UN Habitat-III, said a press release issued here on Monday.

She said Pakistan had made commendable efforts towards implementation of Habitat-II Agenda, since the second United Nations Conference on Human settlements (Habitat-II), held in Istanbul in 1996.

She said Pakistan was one of the most urbanized nations in South Asia and its urban population had increased from 43 million to more than half between 1998 to 2014 and was expected to become pre-dominantly urbanized by the year 2025.

The government of Pakistan, she said had launched Vision 2025, which had implications for managing urbanization as well as changing urban demography. The vision envisages a people centered and inclusive approach to urbanization.

Marvi said that programs like BISP were critical for this new urban agenda. The BISP customers or beneficiaries are likely to reap most of the benefits once cities in Pakistan become sustainable as per the new urban agenda.

Being the only custodian of the gender issues and women empowerment of Pakistan we at BISP in Pakistan will be key to ensuring gender equity whilst cities develop in Pakistan.

BISP through its e-commerce initiatives and microcredit interest free loans is empowering women in the rural and urban spaces. However the big shifts to the cities will be well managed by BISP's latest poverty census expected to be completed in early 2018, she maintained.

She said creating safer and violence free urbanization, especially for the vulnerable women was a key challenge for Pakistan, which BISP through its advocacy would manage well in coordination with the provinces and federal ministries like Finance, Planning Development, Foreign Affairs, Climate Change, Housing and Works and PM Youth program.

She said that to overcome housing backlog, the government had taken initiatives such as construction of low-cost housing under a dedicated Prime Minister's Programme `Apna Ghar Scheme' in Punjab and other parts of the country. Integrated Mass Transit System, Metro Bus and Metro Rail in major cities are being launched at a very fast pace.

So far the Mass Transit Metro Bus system is successfully working in Lahore and Islamabad.

Marvi Memon said that Pakistan had been fortunate that due to the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and successful economic management of Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar, the economic indicators had greatly improved in the last three years adding that the economic successes had been well acknowledged by the international community. As a result; pursuing the new urban agenda of UN Habitat-III is a reality in Pakistan and it is well on its way to manage that.

She said: "Pakistan is committed towards making its growing cities safer, sustainable, economically productive and equitable for the rural and urban vulnerable societies. We in Pakistan fulfill our long term responsibility so that 20 years later Pakistani cities are model sustainable cities in line with UN Habitat New Urban Agenda."