Pakistan Bulletin

An up-to-date and informed analyses of key issues of Pakistan.

Budgetary Allocations and Human Rights Institutions

June 2024

Budgetary allocations for human rights are essential as the independence and effectiveness of HRIs are closely tied to their financial resources.

Budgetary allocations for promoting and protecting human rights are crucial for any country. These allocations include direct funds for the operations of human rights institutions’ (HRIs). Major HRIs in Pakistan that seek to protect the rights of its people include the National Commission for Human Rights, the Sindh Human Rights Commission, the National Commission on the Rights of the Child, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Child Protection and Welfare Commission, the Sindh Child Protection Authority; and also, the district vigilance committees.
Additionally, there are sectors that are indirectly related to human rights, such as education, health, water and sanitation services, as well as social protection.

There are significant consequences of insufficient funding of human rights institutions.

The independence and effectiveness of HRIs are closely tied to their financial resources. It is essential that NHRIs must have sufficient resources to carry out their functions and responsibilities, including adequate funding, staffing, infrastructure, and institutional capacity. In Pakistan, civil society organizations have repeatedly urged the federal and provincial governments to allocate adequate funds to category-specific HRIs (such as children, women, and minorities) and provincial and national HRIs.
Experts note several issues arising due to inadequate funding for HRIs. Few of these include:

1) Inadequate funds become barriers to operational capacity. Without sufficient funding, HRIs struggle to cover basic operational costs, including salaries for staff, maintenance of facilities. In the case of Pakistan’s HRIs, this has led to a reduced ability to conduct investigations, monitor human rights violations, and provide necessary services to the public or at least to the victims;

2) Inadequate funding has also pushed HRIs to depend on donors and external sources for support. This results in irregular or project based funding, which further compromises the independence and functions of HRIs. It has been observed that currently, most of the funding for the National Commission for the Rights of the Child is donor-driven; thus restricting the scope and effectiveness of the critical institution;

3) Inadequate funding also causes inefficiencies and a lack of responsiveness, which erodes public trust in HRIs. It has been noticed that gradually civil society has started distrusting the HRIs because, among many reasons, these are observed to be lacking effectiveness.
With adequate direct funding, HRIs can efficiently manage their operations, ensuring timely and effective responses to human rights violations. HRIs could also build and maintain public trust by being accessible, responsive, and effective, and extend their reach to all regions ensuring that all citizens have access to human rights protection.

Budgetary support to social sectors and essential services – education, health, water, sanitation services, and social protection – is equally important as it contributes to the overall human rights environment. As witnessed in the case of Pakistan, insufficient funding for education, health, and sanitation services has led to poor quality public services, disproportionately affecting vulnerable populations and undermining their human rights. Moreover, lack of financial support for social sectors such as healthcare and education affects access and quality, pushing the marginalised section of the population further down the poverty line and eroding their access quality of life and secure future. Poor public services and increased poverty result in higher incidences of human rights violations, including child domestic labour, forced begging, worst forms of child labour, human trafficking, and exploitation of vulnerable groups.

Lack of financial support for essential services exacerbates poverty and inequality, making it difficult for marginalized groups to access basic human rights and services such as education and healthcare.

According to available data from 2022, the provincial and federal budgets for health was merely 1.4 percent of the GDP, which is viewed as very low. This year, in the Federal Budget 2024, the health sector was allocated PKR 24.25 billion making up 2.8 percent of the total development budget and 0.05 percent of GDP. Among provinces, Punjab has earmarked Rs. 539.1 billion for the health sector for the financial year 2024-25, marking a 24% increase compared to the previous budget. Sindh has proposed a 32% increase in its health budget for 2024-25, allocating Rs300 billion against the previous year’s Rs227.8 billion

Adequate funding for health and education services ensures that public services are of high quality, accessible, and effective, supporting the overall well-being of the population and promoting social and economic development. This helps in upholding human rights by providing the necessary resources to address health and education needs, reducing inequalities, and protecting vulnerable populations. On the other hand, insufficient funding can lead to poor quality services, overcrowded facilities, lack of essential supplies, and untrained staff, directly impacting the ability of individuals to enjoy their rights to health and education. Without adequate resources, marginalized and vulnerable populations are disproportionately affected, exacerbating existing inequalities and hindering efforts to achieve equity and justice. Therefore, the increased budgetary allocations in both Punjab and Sindh are positive steps towards fulfilling their human rights obligations, though the effectiveness of these allocations will depend on how well the funds are utilized and whether they reach the intended beneficiaries. Continuous monitoring, transparent governance, and community involvement are therefore essential to ensure that increased funding translates into tangible improvements in human rights outcomes.

Dr. Abdullah Khoso


Dr. Abdullah Khoso is an Assistant Professor at Centre for Public Policy and Governance (CPPG) Forman Christian College University (FCCU) Lahore.

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