From November 2018 to April 2022, Dr Sania Nishtar served as Special Assistant to the Prime Minister of Pakistan with the status of Federal Minister and Member of Imran Khan’s Cabinet. During this time, she conceptualized and rolled out Ehsaas, the largest social protection program in Pakistan’s history. 

The following details about Ehsaas can be accessed on a .com website, as the .gov record of Ehsaas was obliterated by the PDM government in late 2022. 

In her role as the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister of Pakistan, she oversaw many agencies delivering social protection in Pakistan and was the chair of the board of BISP.  

From laying the foundations of Ehsaas to ensuring its outreach to nearly half the population of the fifth most populous country of the world, Ehsaas’ three-year journey was marked by evidence-based planning, fast-paced execution, extensive hard work, and a tough fight against vested interests. During this period, she implemented Ehsaas’ First Four Year Strategy, which was revised in view of COVID-19. When the government left on April 11, 2022, more than 80% of its targets stood achieved. Under this Strategy, Ehsaas comprised 16 programs, 292 initiatives in their support and 6 time-bound quantifiable goals. The vision of Ehsaas is to achieve Social Protection for all who need it by 2047, the 100th anniversary of Pakistan’s creation.  

Under Ehsaas, she spearheaded a three-time increase in the number of families receiving social protection as well as the social protection budget, with near 100% utilization of the latter. Ehsaas delivered over 90 million benefits, reached out to 15 million families, and disbursed over PKR 720 billion. During this period, she also oversaw completion of a digital survey covering 34 million households, mainstreamed end-to-end digitization in government-run social protection programs and developed a massive footprint at the grassroots level in each of Pakistan’s 160 districts; most importantly, she became the symbol of the anticorruption drive in social protection and insulated social protection operations from political capture. All this was done in tandem with an accelerated anti-corruption reform program, and alongside the COVID 19-related Ehsaas Emergency Cash operation, which was rated as the fastest and the third largest program, globally during the first wave of COVID 19. In 2021, according to an independent assessment, 83% of the population of Pakistan were aware of Ehsaas and 77% appreciated it.

A feature length documentary made by a British filmmaker outlines all details about Ehsaas  

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