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Mahbub ul Haq

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Collection: 1934 Births, 1998 Deaths, Alumni of King's College, Cambridge, Development Economists, Fellows of Pakistan Academy of Sciences, Finance Ministers of Pakistan, Game Theorists, Government College University, Lahore Alumni, Military Government of Pakistan (1977–88), Pakistani Anti-Communists, Pakistani Bankers, Pakistani Economists, Pakistani Financiers, Pakistani Libertarians, Pakistani Politicians, Science and Technology in Pakistan, University of Karachi Faculty, University of the Punjab Alumni
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Mahbub ul Haq

Mahbub ul Haq
محبوب الحق
Born (1934-02-24)24 February 1934
Punjab Province, British India
Died 16 July 1998(1998-07-16) (aged 64)
New York, United States
Nationality  Pakistan
Institution Planning Commission
Ministry of Finance
UN Development Program
World Bank
University of Karachi
Statistics Division
Field Economics (Microeconomics)
School or tradition
Heterodox economics and Game Theory
Alma mater University of Punjab (B.S.)
Kings College at Cambridge (B.A.)
Yale University (Ph.D.)
Contributions Game Theory
Human Development Index (HDI)
Human Development Report (HDR)
Human Development Philosophy

Dr. Mahbub ul Haq (Urdu: محبوب الحق‎; 24 February 1934 – 16 July 1998; PhD, FPAS) was a Pakistani game theorist, economist and professor of microeconomics at the University of Karachi who served as the 13th Finance Minister of Pakistan from 10 April 1985 till 28 January 1988.[1]

He was involved in the human development theory (HDP), and the founder of the Human Development Report (HDR). According to Haq's 1996 book Reflections on Human Development his work also opened new avenues to policy proposals for human development paradigms, such as the 20:20 Global Compact and the setting up of the UN Economic Security Council that became the inspiration for the establishment of the United Nations Economic and Social Council.[2] He served as chief economist of the Planning Commission during the 1960s, and was the director of the World Bank's Policy Planning Department in the 1970s. He was known as "the most articulate and persuasive spokesman for the developing world".[3]


  • Biography 1
    • Childhood and education 1.1
    • Government work 1.2
  • Professional career 2
    • World Bank (1970-1982) 2.1
    • Minister of Finance, Pakistan (1982–1988) 2.2
      • Haq's list of Pakistan's wealthiest 2.2.1
    • Advisor to United Nations Development Programme(UNDP) (1989–1995) 2.3
    • Establishment of Human Development Center (1996) 2.4
  • Achievements 3
  • Death 4
    • Tributes from UN 4.1
    • The Mahbub ul Haq Award for Outstanding Contribution to Human Development 4.2
  • Selected works 5
  • Notes 6
  • External links 7


Childhood and education

Mahbub ul Haq was born in pre-independence Punjab province on 24 February 1934.[4] His teenage years saw religious violence associated with the independence of Pakistan and India in August 1947.[4] He and his family narrowly escaped from being killed by the Sikhs in one of the trains heading to Pakistan. The nature of the religious violence left a lasting impression on Mahbub ul Haq.[4] After reaching Lahore, Haq was given government-sponsored housing and decided to continue his education. In 1954, he applied and was accepted at the Punjab University where he enrolled in the social sciences department.[4]

In 1958 he earned BS in Economics and earned scholarship to resume his studies in Great Britain.[4] He went on to attend Cambridge University where he earned another BA in the same discipline.[4] At Cambridge, Haq gained his BA alongside Amartya Sen, with whom he formed a close, lifelong friendship.[4] After renewing his scholarship, Haq went to United States for his doctoral studies, where American economics system would later influence him for his long advocacy for capitalism. He entered in doctoral programme of Yale University and earned PhD in Economics from Yale, which was followed by post-doctoral work at Harvard University.[4] After completing his post-doctoral studies, Haq returned to his country to join the government service.

Government work

Upon returning to Pakistan, Haq joined the Planning Commission and, while still in his 20s, he became chief economist of Planning Commission.[5] He maintained his ties with Finance Ministry and continued serving as economist advisor to the government of Pakistan.[5]

By the 1960s he was delivering speeches all over the country. He supported the policies of President Ayub Khan.[6] Haq advocated capitalism as the economic base of the national economy and helped guide the government to apply free-market principles to boost the economy.[6] In a public press conference in 1965, Haq alleged that "22 industrial family groups had come to dominate the economic and financial life-cycle of Pakistan and that they controlled about two-thirds of industrial assets, 80% of banking and 79% of insurance assets in the industrial domain."[6] The rapid economic development made Haq's team doubt the long-term viability of such a pattern of growth. While the international community was applauding Pakistan as a model of development, Haq reserved the concerns and raises questions that all was not well with the distribution of benefits of growth.[6] It came as a surprise to Haq that the strong oligarchy of 22 families had control of the national economy and the private sector.[6] While supporting add taxation of the powerful oligarch families, Haq left the country in 1971, just before the 1971 war that led the secession of East-Pakistan into Bangladesh.[7]

While in the United Kingdom, Haq was called by Bhutto to join the Ministry of Finance, but ultimately refused as he had strong opposing views on socialist economics. Bhutto, in response, began to attack the powerful oligarch families in a programme of nationalization.[7] In 1973 Bhutto again asked Mahbub to return to Pakistan and join his administration in devising a strategy that would lift a large number of Pakistanis out of poverty and stagflation, but ideological differences persuaded Haq not to return.[7]

In 1982 Haq returned at the request of General Zia-ul-Haq, and assumed charge of the Ministry of Finance. He became associated with the Ministry of Defence, where he would go onto play an important role. He was the first chairman of the Executive Committee of the Space Research Commission and assisted in the nuclear weapon policy of the country with Munir Ahmad Khan.

Professional career

Haq also served as the World Bank's Director of Policy Planning (1970–1982) and headed Pakistan's Finance Ministry as its minister of finance and planning (1982–1988). In 1989, he was appointed as Special Advisor to the UNDP Administrator, where he led a team of international scholars to produce the first Human Development Report.[8]

World Bank (1970-1982)

During his tenure at the World Bank (1970–82), Haq influenced the Bank's development philosophy and lending policies, steering more attention towards poverty alleviation programmes and increased allocations for small farm production, nutrition, education, water supply and other social sectors. He wrote a study[9] that served as a precursor to the basic needs and human development approaches of the 1980s.

Minister of Finance, Pakistan (1982–1988)

Serving as Pakistan's Minister of Finance, Planning and Commerce (1982–88), Haq is credited with significant tax reforms, deregulation of the economy, increased emphasis on human development and several initiatives for poverty alleviation. According to Parvez Hasan 'under Mahbub's direction, the Planning Commission became once again a lively place and began to exert powerful influence on social sector issues, including education and family planning, much neglected in earlier Zia years – as Finance Minister, Mahbub piloted a major acceleration in social spending'.[10]

Haq's list of Pakistan's wealthiest

On 1968, Haq identified 22 families/groups in Pakistan that were dominating the financial and economic life of the country controlling 66% of the industrial assets and 87% of the banking. As indicated by Haq, these families had become both the Planning Commission and Finance Ministry for the private sector by 1968. The list included Dawood family of Dawood Group, Saigols of Saigol Group, Adamjees of Adamjee Group, Colony, Fancy, Valika, Jalil, Bawany, Crescent, Wazir Ali, Gandhara, Ispahani, House of Habib, Khyber, Nishat Group, Beco, Gul Ahmed Group, Arag, Hafiz, Karim, Milwala and Dada.[11]

Advisor to United Nations Development Programme(UNDP) (1989–1995)

In his capacity as Special Advisor to UNDP Administrator, Haq initiated the concept of Human Development and the Human Development Report as its Project Director. He gathered Paul Streeten, Inge Kaul, Frances Stewart, Amartya Sen and Richard Jolly to prepare annual Human Development Reports.

Establishment of Human Development Center (1996)

In 1996, Haq founded the research, policy studies and seminars in the area of human development, with a special focus on the South Asian region.


Haq devised the Human Development Index, which has become one of the most influential and widely used indices to measure human development across countries. The HDI has been used since 1990 by the United Nations Development Programme for its annual Human Development Reports.

He also gave a 5-year plan to South Korea which helped South Korea to progress rapidly.


Haq died on 16 July 1998 in New York, leaving behind his wife Khadija Haq, son Farhan and daughter Toneema. In acknowledgement of his contributions, the Human Development Centre, Islamabad was officially renamed the Mahbub ul Haq Human Development Centre on 13 December 1998, with Mrs. Khadija Haq as president.

Tributes from UN

  • 'Mahbub ul Haq's untimely death is a loss to the world ...', Kofi Annan, UN Secretary General.
  • '... probably more than anyone else, (Mahbub) provided the intellectual impetus for the Bank's commitment to poverty reduction in the early 1970s.[...]His unique contributions were trend setters for the world and focused attention on the South Asian social realities, urging all of us to look at the dark corners of our social milieus'. James Wolfensohn, President of the World Bank.

The Mahbub ul Haq Award for Outstanding Contribution to Human Development

In honour of Haq, UNDP established this award that alternates between recognizing political and civil society leaders. Recipients include:[12]

Selected works

  • The Strategy of Economic Planning (1963)
  • The Poverty Curtain: Choices for the Third World (1976). Columbia University Press. 247 pages. ISBN 0-231-04062-8
  • The Myth of the Friendly Markets (1992)
  • Reflections on Human Development (1996) Oxford University Press. 1st edition (1996): 288 pages, ISBN 0-19-510193-6. 2nd edition (1999): 324 pages, ISBN 0-19-564598-7
  • The U.N. and the Bretton Woods Institutions: New Challenges For The Twenty-First Century / Edited By Mahbub Ul Haq ... [Et Al.] (1995)
  • The Vision and the Reality (1995)
  • The Third World and the international economic order (1976)
  • New Imperatives of Human Security (1995)
  • A New Framework for Development Cooperation (1995)
  • Humanizing Global Institutions (1998)


  1. ^ Mahbub ul Haq, a heretic among economists, died on 16 July, aged 64
  2. ^ Mahbub ul Haq (1996) Reflections on Human Development. Oxford University Press. 288 pages. ISBN 0-19-510193-6
  3. ^ Mahbub ul-Haq
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Sen, Amartya; Tam Dalyell (3 August 1998). "Obituary: Mahbub ul Haq". Amartya Sen, Tam Dalyell. The Independent. Retrieved 10 August 2012. 
  5. ^ a b Crossette, Barbara (17 July 1998). "Mahbub ul Haq, 64, Analyst And Critic of Global Poverty". The New York Times. The New York Times. p. 2. Retrieved 10 August 2012. 
  6. ^ a b c d e "System is to blame for the 22 wealthy families". Human Development Center, Originally published on London Times. Human Development Center. 22 March 1973. p. 1. Retrieved 6 September 2012. 
  7. ^ a b c Ponzio, Richard; Khadija Haq (2008). Pioneering the human development revolution: an intellectual biography of Mahbub Ul Haq. United Kingdom: Oxford University Press, 2008. pp. 256–260.  
  8. ^ UNDP (1990) Human Development Report 1990: Concept and Measurement of Human Development. Oxford University press. ISBN 0-19-506480-1
  9. ^ Mahbub ul Haq (1976) The Poverty Curtain: Choices for the Third World. Columbia University Press. 247 pages. ISBN 0-231-04062-8
  10. ^ A Tribute to Dr Haq at Human Development Centre website
  11. ^ The 22 Families
  12. ^ The Human Development Awards

Web site of Mahbub ul Haq Human Development Centre. Islamabad: A Tribute To Dr. Mahbub ul Haq

External links

  • UNDP Human Development Reports website
  • Mahbub-ul-Haq page on United Nations in Pakistan site – Contains a tribute, his speeches and the Human Development Review Journal
  • The Mahbub-ul-Haq Development Center
Political offices
Preceded by
Ghulam Ishaq Khan
Finance Minister of Pakistan
Succeeded by
Mian Yasin Khan Wattoo
Preceded by
Mian Yasin Khan Wattoo
Finance Minister of Pakistan (caretaker)
Succeeded by
Benazir Bhutto
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