Shahram Azhar

Assistant Professor, Social Development and Policy
School of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Shahram is an economist, researcher and musician. He did his doctoral studies in Economics at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst as a Fulbright scholar. His doctoral study, entitled “The colonial and post-colonial origins of development” analyzes the impact of colonial institutions and post-colonial developmental policy in shaping current outcome differentials using the natural experiment of the partition of Punjab between India and Pakistan in 1947. His graduate work at Amherst exposed him to a number of heterodox traditions in Economics, including the Marxian and Institutional approaches.

In addition to being a heterodox economist, Shahram has been trained in the traditional neoclassical tradition as well.  He completed his Masters in mainstream Economics from the University of Warwick in 2008 where he was engaged in macroeconomic simulations and modeling. As his dissertation topic, he researched the impact of speculative bubbles in the European housing market on potential economic crises. Having completed his Masters, he joined the Economics department at the NUST Business School, Islamabad, where he worked till 2010 and taught undergraduate courses in Economics.

Shahram is also a musician, founder and former lead singer of the band “Laal”, which was a critical cultural component of the pro-democracy movement in Pakistan in 2007-08. He combines his academic and musical pursuits into a synthetic whole; his research focuses on post-colonial societies in general, and Pakistan-India in particular. Specific research topics include social institutions, class, race and gender dynamics in the labor market and their impact on development outcomes.

Shahram regularly contributes to op/Ed sections of The News and The Friday Times, two of Pakistan’s leading newspapers. At Habib University, Shahram teaches courses in Political Economy and the History of Economic Thought.


Research Interests

Shahram is interested in Institutional and Marxian political economy. In particular, his research focuses on the colonial origins of development. How do colonial institutions continue to impact current economic outcomes? What can be done to mitigate these negative effects today? He examines the interaction of ‘class’, and other social identities in shaping development outcomes in developing countries in general and the Sub-Continent in particular.


  • Divide and Rule: The Colonial Origins of Conflict in Developing Economies, Amherst 2011
  • The Myth of Musharraf’s Economic Boom, 2012
  • Who Benefits from the Chaos?, 2013