Pakistan has retained its spot at number 146 in the Human Development Index (HDI) of 2014, which is not surprising in the least, considering the overall lack of development in the country during the past year. The HDI is calculated on the basis of three factors; the average life expectancy, the Gross National Income (GNI) and the education index. All of these combine to account for the overall standard of living in a country. Out of our neighboring countries, only Afghanistan is ranked below us at 169, while India (135), China (91), Iran (75) and even Bangladesh (142) are ranked higher.

The GNI can only increase if the economy expands enough to provide new jobs for the surplus of labour that is unemployed. The life expectancy index is the average age an individual reaches before dying in a country. The infant mortality rate is included in this estimate, but a plethora of other factors are also at work. The condition of healthcare facilities, access to medicines, the availability of doctors and the government’s efforts (or lack of) to counter serious health threats such as the rise of polio and the dengue outbreak are all accounted for. Pakistan has an estimated life expectancy of 67, while citizens of developed countries such as Japan live up to age of 84 on average. Our infant mortality rate stands at 8.6 %, which means that out of a 1000 children, 86 die at birth.

The decrepit state of our education system is clear from the numerous ghost schools, the meagerly equipped and under-staffed public schools and the high cost of private education. More than half of Pakistan’s population lives in poverty, and for them basic needs such as food and shelter are a novelty, which makes literacy the least of their problems. Additionally, Pakistan lost four spots on the gender inequality index and has slipped from 123 to 127. The high frequency of rape, female infanticide, honour killings, acid attacks and other numerous crimes against women have continued as before, and the state has done nothing to bring the criminals to justice, which is just as bad as an endorsement for their actions. The HDI is by no means completely accurate about the amount of human development in a country, a term which is subjective in any case, but it does paint a general picture of the standard of living. If nothing else, it provides a comparison with other countries, and can be used to set benchmarks to achieve in the future. Pakistan has no excuses for its poor showing on a yearly basis. The HDI, while dealing in statistics, gives us a look into the life of the average person in each country, and number 146 out of a total of 187 countries tells us that it really cannot be much worse.