Pakistan was under a direct military rule when the MDG framework was signed up and the regime continued till 2008 when democratic transition was made possible and the exiled leadership of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) returned home to take part in elections. One of the main reasons for abysmal failure in MDGs at the point of termination in 2015 is often cited as the lack of political ownership of the MDGs framework in Pakistan. None of the three intervening governments in 15 years were adequately geared to integrate MDGs framework with public policy and budgetary frameworks with one exception of Benazir Income Support Programme – a gender-sensitive social protection initiative announced in 2008 through an act of parliament.Hence, Pakistan failed most of the MDG targets, while countries in Sub-Saharan Africa made substantial progress to the similar development agenda. In Pakistan context, three key factors can be attributed to the under-performance of MDGs and related development targets: (a) the lack of political ownership of MDGs, (b) the institutional disconnect of MDGs with multi-layered governance framework and (c) the absence of and disregard to the allocation and technical efficiency. Resultantly, the official assessments revealed that out of 34 indicators, Pakistan was able to achieve only three, was partially proceeding to achieve 7 and was completely off track on 24 indicators. During the 15-year MDG regime, Pakistan produced only five reports that also based on contentious ‘interim data’, while the government which signed MDGs in 2000 decided to drop chapters on poverty and income distribution from the Pakistan Economic Survey in 2007 considering them ‘politically damaging’ for the regime.Concomitantly, there have been two civil transitions of power in Pakistan since MDGs – 2008 and 2013 – while the latest transition of power in 2018 has just happened in the backdrop of a new global contract renamed as sustainable development goals (SDGs) or Agenda 2030 signed in 2015 by former PML-N-government. This time around, the political ownership of SDGs was far more encouraging than MDGs signed by the erstwhile military rule. For example, Pakistan was the first country to adopt SDGs 2030 agenda through a unanimous resolution of Parliament in February 2016 making it a National Development Agenda. Some follow-up institutional and administrative mechanisms were also put in place, which include: forming a Parliamentary Task Force on SDGs at federal and provincial levels, establishing a Prime Minister’s SDG Fund and setting up SDG-support units at federal and provincial level on cost-sharing between respective governments and the UNDP. In the beginning of a new millennium, a global social contract was sealed by the comity of nations setting a 15-year development agenda naming Millennium Development Goals targeting extreme poverty, education, gender equality and child mortalityMeanwhile, the general elections of 2018 have reconfigured the power landscape in Pakistan where the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Inaf (PTI) rules the center, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa while the Sindh government is retained by PPP, and Balochistan is led by the BalochistanAwami Party, a relatively new entity founded in 2018 by political dissidents of PML-N. The former ruling party, signatory of SDGs, failed to maintain its power to form government, however, it offers a strong opposition in the National Assembly, Senate and Punjab Assembly with an overt support by other opposition parties, including the rival PPP, making the government accountable at federal and provincial levels, particularly in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces.Prima facia, the electoral manifestos of key political parties, including the PTI, the PPP and the PML-N, also make direct references to SDGs which is a step forward, at least at the level of conceptual recognition by the key political actors in the country. However, mere recognition of SDGs at the rhetoric level does not serve much in terms of actual delivery of missing services to the people of Pakistan. The experience has shown that development interventions have largely been decided and influenced by supply-driven and patronage-based considerations or dictated by techno-centric approaches in isolation of political economy paradigm. Development is neither merely a technical issue nor an apolitical process. SGDs cannot be achieved without making some key political decisions aimed at critical public policy rethinking if not reforms per se. Development communities need to identify the political pathways through which progress towards sustainable development is possible, and to understand how the SDGs can facilitate such progress.A renewed political commitment on SDGs, however, is required in the aftermath of 2018 election and subsequent government formation as some fear that the PTI government might deprioritize SDGs being signed off by its rival political party. An uncertainty has also been created about the future of the 18th Amendment and the National Finance Commission Award which could jeopardize the hard-earned political consensus on key areas of constitutional governance, including provincial autonomy, democratic devolution and fiscal decentralization reversing the process of democratic consolidation in the country. Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan also need to refer to the previous work done in this direction and internalize SDGs as a point of departure for short-term and long-term development planning, implementation and management. On the other hand, the PPP in Sindh has reassured consistency and continuity of policy commitments on SDGs referring to its electoral manifesto. Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has already identified six priority areas to be integrated into the budgetary framework of the Sindh government by realigning forthcoming annual development plans in line with the SDGs targets.With the social sector devolved to the provinces there is a need to develop robust inter-provincial mechanisms to mainstream SDGs in existing sectoral planning via annual development plans and long-term budgetary frameworks. Much needed ‘localization of SDGs’ is possible through a decentralized political response to lingering development deficits at local and sub-national levels. Published in Daily Times, January 26th 2019.