I’m Shahrukh Wani (شاہ رخ وانی; also go by Shah or Wani). I’m an economist passionate about using evidence in shaping better policymaking, especially policy that unlocks the potential of cities.
I presently work as an urban economist at the International Growth Centre (IGC) based at the University of Oxford’s Blavatnik School of Government. In this role, I support evidence-based economic policy reforms in several countries across Africa and South Asia with work focusing on two broad areas: (1) public finance and procurement, and (2) urban governance and infrastructure provision. In these areas, I have worked with policymakers in Afghanistan, Uganda, Pakistan, and Zambia on a range of policy questions.
I also regularly contribute opinion pieces on economic policy to various outlets, with a focus on urbanisation in developing countries and, more broadly, on public policy in Pakistan. When invited, I occasionally talk to journalists about these topics and participate in speaking engagements. You can find most of these articles and engagements as your scroll through this webpage — but I want to highlight this recent interview I gave on the potential of cities.
I was born and raised in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, with a portion of my childhood spent in Muzaffarabad, Kashmir. I moved to London to study at the London School of Economics and have since lived here, although I typically spend about a quarter of my year in Pakistan.
When I’m not working, my life centres around literature (Camus, Wilde, Coward, Chekhov, Baldwin, Morrison), food (restaurants, chai, cheesecakes, cafés), the theatre, and attempts to run for longer.
- COVID-19 and taxes: Policies for the post-pandemic recovery, with Anders Jensen (Harvard), Nick Wilkinson (IGC), Moussa Saab (IGC), Oliver Harman (IGC) and Farria Naeem (IGC), 2021. International Growth Centre.
- Building authorising environments for fast-growing cities, with Paul Collier (Oxford), Edward Glaeser (Harvard), Tony Venables (Manchester), and Astrid Haas (AfDB), 2020. International Growth Centre.
- Making policy decisions under uncertainty, with Paul Collier (Oxford) and Victoria Delbridge (IGC)
- Urban Property Taxes in Pakistan’s Punjab, with Hina Sheikh (IGC) and Oliver Harman (IGC), 2020. International Growth Centre.
- The role of public–private partnerships in urban service delivery, with Priya Manwaring (forthcoming). International Growth Centre.
- Interview by the Digital Future Society on global urbanisation, 2021
- Devolve more power to cities: they will need it more than ever, October 2020 (with Astrid Haas) LSE Public Policy
- What is stopping developing countries from taxing more?, Aug 2020. International Growth Centre.
- In defence of density, July 2020 (with Shlomo Angel, Patrick Lamson-Hall, Oliver Harman). International Growth Centre.
- Urbanisation in fragile societies: Thinking about Kabul, Feb 2020. (with Oliver Harman, Freshta Karim and Shoaib Rahim) Urbanet.
- Navigating the urban age. with Oliver Harman. 2019. Oxford Government Review.
- Getting the right institutions in place to run Africa’s cities efficiently, with Astrid Hass. 2019. The Conversation.
- The Potential of Advanced Market Commitments. LSE International Development.
- Landlords Inc. November, 2020. Dawn.
- Why Pakistan’s new plan to fix the bureaucracy won’t work, Sep 2020. Dawn. (with Sameen Mohsin).
- Sugar and the making of a rentier economy, May 2020. Express Tribune. (with Adeel Malik).
- Pakistan’s urban transition, Nov 2019. Dawn.
- So, what comes after the IMF?, Sep, 2019. Dawn.
- Has Punjab just taken a step towards unlocking the potential of its cities?, Aug 2019. Dawn.
- How do you pay for a programme like PTI’s Ehsas?, July 2019. Dawn.
- Are insecure property rights holding back Pakistan’s economy?, Aug 2019. Dawn.
- Why Pakistan will go to the IMF again, and again and again, Oct 2018. Dawn.*
- Imran Khan envisions a Pakistani welfare state. Is it possible?, Aug 2018. Dawn.
- Reforming Pakistan’s tax system: Evidence-based suggestions, Dec 2018. IGC
- For too long, Pakistani schools have been a means to provide jobs, rather than education, June 2017. The Guardian.
(the website is being redesigned so apologies for the inconstant formatting)
- Kabul: identity and legitimacy in a fragile context, University of Oxford’s Challenges of Government Conference. 31st October 2019. Moderator.
- Financing Punjab’s cities: Land and property taxes, Government of Punjab and the International Growth Center. 1st September 2019. Co-organiser, Speaker and Moderator.
- Taxing Land and Property for urban service delivery in Pakistan, Federal Board of Revenue, Pakistan. 3rd March 2020. Invited Presentation.
- Why tax land and property?, Institute of Business Administration (IBA). Karachi. 5th Oct 2020. Guest Lecture.
- Building authorising environments for fast-growing cities, Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office’s Infrastructure and Urban cadre CPD week. 1st Dec 2020. Co-presenter.
- Urban Governance and Collaboration, UK Built Environment Advisory Group (UKBEAG) and the UN-Habitat for Prosperity Fund’s Global Future Cities Programme. 4th Feb 2021. Presenter.
There are many, many more.
- On Pakistan’s COVID19 response, Television Interview. Dawn News. June, 27 2020.
- On Pakistan’s social spending push, Newspaper Interview. Arab News. Jan, 26 2020.
- On Imran Khan’s first year in office, Interview. BBC Urdu. Aug, 16 2019.
- On décentralisation in Pakistan, Television Interview. Dawn News. May 10, 2019
- On the IMF program in Pakistan, Television Interview. Dawn News.May 13 2019.
- On Pakistan’s annual budget. Newspaper Interview. Dawn. Sep, 9 2018.
- On urban governance in Pakistan. Television Interview. Indus News. May, 16 2019.