The case for a culture of learning

For what it’s worth, Pakistanis have created much noise concerning its education crisis. Enough to get the government’s attention. To some extent, it has paid off. It is the center – or near the center – of our public debate. Despite all this, over 20 million are still out of school. Those in schools aren’tContinue reading “The case for a culture of learning”

Pakistan’s Growth Story, Simplified

The story is now as Pakistani as it gets. We go to the IMF, get a few billion dollars, we use it to finance an import-led growth bubble which increases domestic consumption. It’s all good so far. We say goodbye to the IMF. Consumption allows us to proclaim that we’re growing. The GDP is growing,Continue reading “Pakistan’s Growth Story, Simplified”

Blog: Reforming Pakistan’s Tax System: Evidence-based suggestions

As Pakistan fails to collect a decent proportion of own-source revenue, it has little choice than to take on debt or depend on more creative means, such as a recent crowdfunding campaign, to fund public projects. Where does Pakistan stand? Pakistan tax-to-GDP ratio is about 12% . In comparison, OECD countries raise taxes equivalent toContinue reading “Blog: Reforming Pakistan’s Tax System: Evidence-based suggestions”

Op-Ed: Why Pakistan will go to the IMF again, and again and again

Originally published in Dawn.com on October 16, 2018 and can be read here. It was subsequently cross-posted at Scroll.in here. Pakistan’s formula for economic growth is as flawed as it gets: borrow foreign currency-denominated loans, build some large-scale infrastructure, get a minor growth spurt in the process, and wait until this growth spurt fades so weContinue reading “Op-Ed: Why Pakistan will go to the IMF again, and again and again”

Thoughts on Joe Studwell’s ‘How Asia Works’

I just completed Joe Studwell’s new book “How Asia Works: Success and Failure in the World’s Most Dynamic Region.” Here are some thoughts I tweeted about after reading it. 1) Size of farms matters! Studwell argues that having a small (3ish acre) family-owned farms boosts agriculture productivity (read: land reforms!). There are various loopholes countries (likeContinue reading “Thoughts on Joe Studwell’s ‘How Asia Works’”

Commentary for Dawn on 2018 Pakistan Budget Changes

These are my comments published in Dawn.com on Sep 19, 2018 after the amended finance bill by the 15th National Assembly of Pakistan. “The bill is anything but populist” — Shahrukh Wani, researcher at Blavatnik School of Government, Oxford The announcement contains pretty straightforward short-term stabilising measures. Essentially, this allows the government to ‘tighten its belt’ a bit and giveContinue reading “Commentary for Dawn on 2018 Pakistan Budget Changes”

Op-Ed: Imran Khan envisions a Pakistani welfare state. Is it possible?

This is an archived version of an article written for Dawn.com, published on Aug, 28th 2018. If you want to share it, please do so the version on Dawn.com. It was posted here 3rd Sep 2018 as a self-archive. Pakistan has a new leader at the helm who, if his first address to the nation is to be consideredContinue reading “Op-Ed: Imran Khan envisions a Pakistani welfare state. Is it possible?”

Op-Ed: The case for a culture of learning

This article was commissioned by Alif Ailaan – a DFID funded, project implemented by DAI Pakistan. You can read it here: https://elections.alifailaan.pk/the-case-for-a-culture-of-learning/. A version of this is also published in Urdu here. It is copied below for archive purposes. For what it’s worth, Pakistanis have created a lot of noise concerning its education crisis. Enough toContinue reading “Op-Ed: The case for a culture of learning”

Op-Ed: What Does the Rise of Populism Mean for International Development?

We live in interesting times. Few of us had the foresight to predict that a billionaire real estate developer would become the face of an anti-elite crusade, an Eton and Oxford educated parliamentarian would attack aid to the world’s poorest, and a continent which knows very well the destruction populist-rhetoric often brings with it, would onceContinue reading “Op-Ed: What Does the Rise of Populism Mean for International Development?”

Op-Ed: Using Markets for Development? The Potential of Advanced Market Commitments

Markets are good for a lot of things. They have an irrefutable ability to cater to our demands, how seemingly ridiculous our demands might be. Think about silly putty. If enough people want it, they will get it. But there is a catch. You must be able to afford it. You can desire as muchContinue reading “Op-Ed: Using Markets for Development? The Potential of Advanced Market Commitments”