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ISLAMABAD: Former Advisor to the Prime Minister on Institutional Reforms and Austerity, Dr Ishrat Hussain emphasised the need for a “whole of society” approach that champions local governance to reduce inequality in the country.

Dr Hussain was addressing the third webinar of its Pakistan Inequality Debate series hosted by the UNDP Pakistan, here on Thursday.

The UNDP Pakistan hosted the third webinar of its Pakistan Inequality Debate series.

These webinars have been held to discuss the findings of the Pakistan National Human Development Report (NHDR) 2020: The Three Ps of Inequality: Power, People, and Policy, which was launched by the prime minister.

Former State Bank governor Dr Ishrat Hussain stated that Pakistan has to adopt the said approach that champions local governance, if it is to succeed in its inequality reduction efforts.

He also touched upon the issue of the role of financial institutions to bring down poverty and inequality in the country.

The webinar was entitled, “Power as a Driver of Inequality: Power, Privilege, Preference: What Causes Inequality?”

The session included Knut Ostby, Resident Representative, UNDP Pakistan; Dr Ishrat Hussain; Lt Gen Tariq Khan, (retired), former chief executive and managing director, Fauji Fertilizer Company Limited; and Harris Khalique, Secretary-General, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.

The session was moderated by author Nasim Zehra. In his welcoming remarks, UNDP Pakistan Resident Representative, Ostby, spoke about citizen power in the context of nudging the country towards more equitable practices.

“The enduring insight of the NHDR 2020 is this: Power isn’t just the ability to gain preferential treatment, exploit your network for benefits, or lobby for your interests. Each one of us has power in one form or another, and it is how we wield that power that will ultimately define the Pakistan that we live in,” said Ostby.

The panel discussion explored the role of power in reinforcing inequality in the country, discussing themes relating to poverty, economic growth, governance, policy reforms, social inclusion, and more.

In a similar vein, Harris Khalique spoke about the need to treat the constitution as the moral and legal guiding framework of Pakistan, in order to ensure an equitable and inclusive society.

General Tariq Khan highlighted the importance of looking to regional models of growth to see how this success can be replicated in Pakistan.

The UNDP’s Pakistan Inequality Debates have explored themes related to inequality in Pakistan, with dialogues and advocacy events at the national, provincial, and regional levels, to deconstruct the mechanisms of inequality in the country and take steps towards realising a more equal Pakistan.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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