Pakistan’s envoy has told the UN that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government is pursuing people-centric policies to address poverty and help the underprivileged to gain access to education, employment and health care. In her speech at the annual session of the Commission for Social Development, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Maleeha Lodhi, detailed governmental priorities and emphasized its commitment to the socio-economic welfare of the people, especially the marginalised sections of society. Prime Minister Imran Khan’s policies were aimed at promoting financial inclusion, rural development, provision of educational opportunities, access to health care and poverty eradication, she added. The Pakistani envoy also called for global cooperation to eradicate poverty and ensure social development for all. In this regard, she underscored the need for both national and international commitment and action to reduce inequalities. She believed that Pakistan’s youth bulge had come as an opportunity for the government to reap a demographic dividend by building on its youth potential through growth and development. “In a world”, Ambassador Lodhi said, “where economies increasingly rely on sophisticated skills and well-trained citizens, my country considers education as an investment in its future”. The Prime Minister’s Youth Program envisages a broad canvas of steps aimed at enabling young people to access opportunities through skills development, higher education and information technology. In her remarks, she noted, “At the same time, our new government has instituted a National Health Programme to provide health care to underprivileged citizens. ‘Insaf Sehat Cards’ will potentially benefit over 15 million families for a start”. Ambassador Lodhi also highlighted Pakistan’s commitment to ensuring gender equality and women’s empowerment. Talking of examples like the Benazir Income Support Program, she explained how social safety initiatives were being extended to vulnerable segments of society to overcome extreme poverty and find livelihoods. “We believe that the country’s social, political and economic development can only be sustained by ensuring gender equality and women’s empowerment”, she apprised the 193-member commission. “In a world where economies increasingly rely on sophisticated skills and well-trained citizens, my country considers education as an investment in its future,” she remarked. Dr Lodhi talked of Pakistan envisioning education as an equalizer, a means of inclusion and a vehicle to address marginalization. By implementing programs like Waseela-e-Taleem, which has already benefited close to two million children, the government was trying to increase primary enrollment and provide a universal basic education Robust results-based monitoring systems have also been put in place to evaluate progress on a wide range of strategies to ensure the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. Published in Daily Times, February 16th 2019.