Describing Zakat as an important pillar of Islam the Prime Minister of Azad Jammu and Kashmir Sardar Tanveer Ilyas Khan said that no-doubt ‘Zakat’ (Almsgiving) was a means of purifying wealth but its transparent and fair distribution was a big challenge to fulfil. The AJK PM expressed these views while addressing departmental briefing arranged by Secretary Zakat and Ushr Sardar Javed Ayub in the state metropolis on Sunday. Government Minister Chaudhry Ali Shan Soni, Principal Secretary Syed Shahid Mohi-ud-Din, Chief Administrator Zakat Sardar Khalid Mehmood Khan were also present in the briefing. Speaking on the occasion, the AJK PM said that the department should formulate workable proposals for digitalization of the Zakat distribution system to ensure transparency and accountability. The digitalization of the system, he said, would be instrumental in making it [department] free of political interference. The AJK PM termed the dowry fund of Rs. 12,000 for poor and orphan girls as a “joke” and ordered to increase it to Rs. 50,000. The AJK PM also took notice of the meagre amount being distributed amongst the needy annually through the local Zakat Committees. “The amount of Rs. 3000 given once in a year is very insufficient and it should be increased to Rs. 8 to 10 thousand”, he said adding that the amount for widows should be increased to Rs. 15000. The AJK PM also directed the concerned authorities to double the stipends for the needy students and for those enrolled in religious seminaries (madrassas). He also announced that the government would provide direct assistance of Rs400mper annum to the authorised seminaries (madrassas). Sardar Tanveer Ilyas Khan called for immediate improvement in the system of collection and distribution of Zakat and directed the concerned authorities to persuade the wealthy to give their alms (Zakat) to the government in order to improve the lives of poor and economically downtrodden strata of the society. Meanwhile, the AJK PM stressed that the madrassas should teach science and arts subjects to the students in order to get them acquainted with modern skills to enhance their academic and professional abilities.