Dr. Mahbub ul Haq’s stature: The prominent economist of Pakistan

Dr. Mahbub ul Haq


Mahbub ul Haq was regarded as an original thinker and a major innovator of new ideas in the field of development economics. He was named one of the fifty key thinkers on development in a book, alongside Karl Marx, Thomas Malthus, and Mahatma Gandhi. (David Simon, Fifty Key Development Thinkers, Routledge, London, 2006)

·       The Human Development Index, created by Haq and Amartya Sen has become one of the most prominent and commonly used indexes for measuring human development across countries. The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has utilized the HDI in its yearly Human Development Reports since 1990. He also presented South Korea with a five-year plan that aided the country’s quick development. Mahbub ul Haq is credited with being the first to conceive the concept of human development. He not only established the philosophy of human development for planning economic development, but he also presented the world with a statistical tool to quantify the indicators of economic progress and human development.

·        From theThe Human Development Index1960s through the 1990s, Haq impacted development philosophy and practice, moving the focus of development discourse from national income growth to people and their well-being, and tracking progress through the Human Development Index (HDI). He started a global campaign to adopt Haq’s unique ideas for people-centered development, bringing together policymakers, academics, and activists.

·        Haq’s ideas and passion encouraged his audience, especially South Asian officials, to delve deeper into the causes of the mismatch between economic prosperity and people’s well-being. Despite holding high-ranking positions in national and international organizations, Haq has never shied away from speaking the truth and raising concerns about taboo topics like rising military spending, poor countries wasting resources on the nuclear race, and a lack of development cooperation within South Asia. If acute divisions were resolved and a free flow of rich customs, business, and ideas was promoted, Haq believed that South Asia could become Asia’s next economic frontier. He outlined a vision and a strategy for bringing South Asians closer together.

      He worked relentlessly for peace between India and Pakistan, investments in education and health for all people without discrimination based on gender, income, geography, or other variables, training and resources for South Asian civil society, and work toward a South Asian integrated economy.

·       Mahbub ul Haq’s legacy of humanizing economics by giving economic development a human face and pushing poverty concerns to the forefront of the development agenda will live on for a long time. His concerns about income and capability differences between rich and poor people inside and between countries will also be addressed. Haq steadfastly advocated for better development cooperation in the twenty-first century, a less brutal globalization process, a system of global institutions to protect vulnerable people and nations, a reduction in military spending to free up resources for social development, a more transparent and ethical national and international governance system, and a compassionate society. Another of his legacies is that he rarely discussed concerns without laying forth a detailed plan of action.

      However, Mahbub ul Haq’s greatest legacy is his intellectual fortitude. He never shied away from telling the truth, no matter where he worked or what position he had. He was constantly fighting for the voiceless, disenfranchised, and downtrodden millions against an unjust, immoral, corrupt, and anti-people system. I’d like to close by repeating a few remarks from a good friend, Prof Amartya Sen, who was speaking about Mahbub ul Haq.

Posthumous recognition

The Mahbub ul Haq Award for Extraordinary Contribution to Human Development was established in Haq’s honor, and it is given to a notable national, regional, or global person who has exhibited outstanding commitment to improving human development understanding and advancement. The Mahbub ul Haq Award honors both political and civil society leaders on a rotating basis. The following people have received this award:

2014 – Gro Harlem Brundtland, former Prime Minister of Norway and a member of The Elders.

2009 – Frances Stewart, author, researcher, and advocate for human development.

2007 – Sheila Watt-Cloutier, arctic community activist.

2004 – Fazle Hasan Abed, founder of the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC).

2002 – Fernando Henrique CardosoPresident of Brazil, 1995–2002


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