A report issued by the Institute for Policy Reforms (IPR) has estimated province wise Human Development Index (HDI) for Pakistan.

The last time that provincial HDI was estimated in Pakistan was in 2008 under Pakistan Bureau of Statistics. “IPR has been able to accomplish this following the publication of its recent report on the Growth of the Provincial Economies,” says the report.

HDI level is one of the criteria used by the National Finance Commission to allocate resources to the provinces. With additional resources after the last NFC award and full autonomy for human development since the eighteenth amendment, it is critical now to estimate provincial HDI, which many experts consider a more important measure of development. The three equal components of HDI are health, education, and income.

The IPR has calibrated its estimates to correspond with the methodology followed by the UNDP for global HDI. Therefore, it is possible to compare provincial HDI estimates with UNDP’s global ranking. IPR’s provincial HDI estimates show Sindh in the lead followed by Punjab, Khyber Pukhtunkhwa, and Balochistan, in that order.

“Pakistan, as a whole, falls in the category of countries with a low level of human development. The disaggregation to the Provincial level reveals that Sindh is at the medium level of development while the three other Provinces are at the low level of development.”

Looking at the trend, we see that, among all provinces, Sindh has had the slowest rate of HDI growth for the period 2001-2014. Balochistan and KPK were the fastest growing provinces at 1.78% each. Punjab grew at an average annual rate of 1.45% while Sindh trailed at 1.11%. Sindh was especially tardy during the period 2008 to 2014 when its HDI grew by 0.85% annually. KPK’s HDI grew by 2.39% annually between 2001 and 2008, but by a much lower 1.19 since then. The report attributes Sindh’s slow HDI growth to poor law and order, weak governance in the province, and skewed priorities.

Three conclusions arise from this study. First, overall, Pakistan does not fare well in the global human development index. This is especially so when its HDI ranking is compared with its ranking for per capita income. Globally, Pakistan ranks 133rd in GDP/capita while its rank is 147 on HDI. Clearly, Pakistan does not do as well in human development as it does in overall national income, the report added.

Second, there is convergence in the HDI values of the four Provinces. While Sindh is still in the lead, HDI has grown at a faster pace in other provinces. Apparently, equitable fiscal distribution since the last National Finance Commission award has helped.

Third, national and all provincial HDI growth rates were higher during 2001-2008 than in the period 2008-2014. It is not possible to attribute this yet to a single factor. The period 2008-2014 saw the country under a democratic dispensation. Provinces also had more administrative authority under the eighteenth amendment to the Constitution. They also had greater financial resources than before under the last National Finance Commission award. All of these should have resulted in improved HDI growth rates than those actually seen.