Under the umbrella of the Foundation for Human Development in Pakistan, Mahbub ul Haq Human Development Centre was set up in November 1995 in Islamabad, Pakistan by the late Dr. Mahbub ul Haq, founder and chief architect of UNDP Human Development Reports.
Dr. Haq revolutionalized the entire development thinking by introducing and promoting people centred development paradigm and advanced this paradigm in all capacities in which he worked – in the World Bank (1970-82) as a close adviser to its President, Robert S. McNamara, as Finance and Planning Minister in Pakistan (1982-88), and as Special Adviser to the UNDP Administrator (1989-95). The economic growth experience of a number of countries, in particular that of Pakistan in the 1960s, convinced him that GNP growth was not the end, but merely a means, to development. He argued that the purpose of development is not just to enlarge incomes but to enlarge people’s choices, and that these choices extend to a decent education, good health, political freedom, cultural identity, personal security, community participation, environmental security, and many other areas of human well-being.
In his capacity as the Special Adviser to the UNDP Administrator, Dr. Mahbub ul Haq conceived and launched annual Human Development Reports in 1990. It was the professional courage of these reports – the courage to state facts honestly and candidly – which endeared them to an ever-increasing audience. These reports had an enormous impact on international thinking and on national development strategies. However, in Dr. Haq’s own words: ‘After producing seven global Human Development Reports, I had to face the sad reality that the real challenge of human development lay back home, in Pakistan and in South Asia.
It was with a vision to promote human development in South Asia that Dr. Haq set up the Mahbub ul Haq Human Development Centre in November 1995 in Islamabad as a policy research institute and think tank with a special focus on South Asia. The annual reports on Human Development in South Asia were initiated in 1997. The purpose of these reports is to convince the governments and the civil society in the region of the real promise of South Asia by presenting an honest and professional appraisal of the situation each year.