The 15-year Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) adopted in 2000 at the UN will be followed by the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for the period 2016-2030. Pakistan hasn’t been successful in attaining its MDGs including eradication of extreme poverty, promotion of primary education, checking child mortality, promotion of gender equality and ensuring environmental sustainability among others. For a total of 23 out of the 34 indicators that Pakistan needed to work on, it failed to produce any concrete results. With that comes the extremely pressing issue of whether the country should commit to the new SDGs or not. Comprising 17 Goals and 169 Targets, the SDGs encompass all three dimensions of sustainable development - economic, social and environmental.

The main aim proposed by the SDGs is the eradication of poverty in all forms. These goals have come right after the MDGs are expiring; a point that signifies the importance of the accomplishment of the millennium development goals prior to the commitment to these goals. The eradication of poverty is something that Pakistan has not been able to manage at all. In fact, in some areas, the country has become worse off in tackling poverty. Pakistan’s has made preparations for the Post-2015 Development Agenda set to be adopted during the 70th Session of the UN General Assembly in New York later this month. Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz has said that learning from the experience of the inadequate performance on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), an early start, sustained effort and a robust monitoring and follow-up mechanism were imperative for effective and full implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Pakistan.

Goals are important to set to make a plan, even if they do not end up being met. However, in the case of Pakistan the MDGs were just what diplomats talk about at UN summits. There was not integrated national approach to actually setting and achieving these targets. It is likely that the SDGs will also suffer from policy-making lethargy. Even though we know that it is a foregone conclusion that Pakistan will agree to pursue the SDGs, the government warrants some healthy criticism for a job not done. It is disconcerting, that we will be following new goals, and the government will thus be allowed to leave its old goals behind- if they were goals at all.