ISLAMABAD - The Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform (MPDR) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have launched the fifth National MDG Report for Pakistan which stated Pakistan has shown consistent, though slow, progress on many of the MDGs.

The report assesses progress towards achieving the MDGs, galvanising efforts for a final push for their achievement. The report records successes and challenges, and shares initial thoughts on the post-2015 development agenda for Pakistan. For the first time, this MDGR includes a review of sub-national and district level status and trends. UNDP Pakistan is also launching an Internet MDG monitor to make up-to-date information on the country’s MDG progress. The MDGs are a set of 8 goals adopted by 189 countries, including Pakistan in 2000 and to be achieved by 2015. The MDGs provide concrete, numerical benchmarks for tackling extreme poverty in its many dimensions. Pakistan has adopted 16 targets and 41 indicators against which progress is measured and reported. According to the MDG Report 2013, Pakistan is likely to reach to ten of the indicators, while the progress on many others indicate that additional and more focussed efforts are needed in order to be able to reach close to these.   Pakistan has shown consistent, though slow, progress on many of the MDGs. The Government has already geared up efforts to achieve the target set for achieving Universal Primary Education, and the Net Primary Enrolment Ratio. The recent enrolment drive is an effort towards achieving these targets.

Professor Ahsan Iqbal, Federal Minister of Planning, Development and Reform, Government of Pakistan, thanked the UN and other development partners for their support in pushing the national development agenda forward and for driving progress on the Millennium Development Goals, which are in fact Pakistan’s National Development Goals. He stressed that had the level of support from the development partners been according to the plan, Pakistan would have performed much better in terms of achieving most of the MDGs. Underlining the importance of National MDG Report, he said that it takes stock of the national milestones and successful policies/programmes/ initiatives around the MDGs and provides a robust fact base and repository of data for informed and evidence based policies formulation in the country, provinces and regions.  He said that while the country is lagging on most MDG targets and faces a host of challenges impacting the pace of progress; the Government is committed to work toward the achievement of MDGs, in particular towards investing in its people. He said MDGs are in reality National Development Goals, which are critical for development of the country. People have to be at centre of all development strategies and goals for sustainable and inclusive growth. Quality of human resource determines quality of development. In post eighteenth amendment scenario, there is greater need for collaboration among all stakeholders.  Pakistan 2025 puts human development at the top of development agenda.  He underscored the need for collective efforts led by the provincial, regional and federal government together with civil society, academia and other development partners to expedite progress on achieving the MDGs.

He highlighted the development of the MDG Acceleration Framework for Education as a successful exercise in which this is occurring.

Ms. Marriyum Aurangzeb, Parliamentary Secretary for Interior and Narcotics Control and Convener of the Parliamentary Task Force on MDGs elaborated on the objective of the Task Force and the formation of similar groups at the provincial level. These groups have oversight on the implementation of the Millennium Acceleration Framework on Education and Pakistan’s Priorities in the Post-2015 Development Agenda, coordinating with the provinces and the national government. She described the importance of credible, authentic and comparable data, which plays a critical role in tracking, monitoring and evaluating social sector reforms to inform policy making. She also highlighted the importance of peace, security and stability in the implementation of social sector reforms.

Ms. Aurangzeb urged civil society, bilateral and multilateral partners, media and the private sector to support a unified national agenda for social sector reform in the country.

Haoliang Xu, UN Assistant Secretary General and the new UNDP Director for Asia and the Pacific highlighted the setbacks Pakistan has encountered in the form of natural disasters, a deteriorating law and order situation and the global financial crisis, in spite of which progress has been made on some MDG indicators. He noted the commendable performance of other South Asian countries such as Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh on achieving the MDGs vis-a-vis Pakistan and emphasised the need for South-South learning. Pakistan can learn a lot from countries in South Asia with better MDG performance. He noted that the Pakistan MDG report analyses disparities and inequalities across different geographical areas and gender. The report identifies rising income and gender inequalities as one of the main development challenges, not only for Pakistan, but also for the world as a whole.

Four lessons from other countries in South Asia on accelerating progress toward achieving the MDGs were highlighted: 1) social policies are as important as economic policies; 2) investing in women and girls has multiple, strong benefits for all MDGs; 3) public sector expenditure on the social sector is important, especially spending on education, 4) governance issues at the country level can be a major constraint.

He also commended the efforts of the MPDR in prioritising some of these issues in the Vision 2025 and the 11th Five Year Plan and creating synergies and closing links between policies and strategies at the national and sub-national levels.