Pakistan may not be an elderly-friendly country in general but if you’re about to retire, Peshawar ought to be your last destination.
Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s capital does not have a single old home, public or private, nor does it have any non-governmental organisations working for senior citizens’ rights or issues in the province.
The province is yet to set up a chapter of the Senior Citizens Association of Pakistan (SCAP).
The organisation has chapters in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad but Mohammad Tariq Bucha, information secretary for SCAP’s Lahore chapter, says so far no one has contacted them about opening an office in Peshawar.
“We will welcome any one who approaches us with this idea from KP,” he said, adding that the organisation had over a 1,000 members across the country. Its main agenda is to press for the rights of senior citizens.
Rs8.12 per day allowance
If the situation in the private sector is dim, the public sector is downright dark.
The provincial government, since 2006, has been giving a one-off Rs3,000 allowance to senior citizens in three remote districts of Kohsitan, Battagaram and Shangla. This allowance was given to about 313 senior citizens above 60 years of age in these districts every year, claimed an official at the social welfare department.
“Every year, the district social welfare officer sends new names for the allowance,” he added.
The government has decided to increase this amount to Rs6,000 from next year, and extend the scheme to Torghar district as well, he added. The official said he was not aware of any other initiatives being taken for the welfare of senior citizens.
“I do not know about any NGO working for welfare of senior citizens nor any old home exists in Peshawar,” he said.
The only perk of being a senior citizen in this city, is the half-fare in public transport, thanks to General Ziaul Haq.
Despite their manifest absence, provincial minister for social welfare and women development Sitara Ayaz insisted the government is committed to the welfare of the senior citizens.
At present, she said, the social welfare department was “mulling over initiating an old home as a pilot project in the provincial capital.”
Published in The Express Tribune, December 26th, 2011.
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