I am a PhD candidate in Economics at the University of Paris IX
I conduct research in political economy and development. Particularly, my research seeks to understand the workings of formal institutions such as the judiciary and its interaction with other formal and informal institutions. In my job market paper, I show how the presidential appointment of judges in the superior courts impact judicial decision-making. In a related paper, I show how religious institutions and military coups impact judicial independence and case delay.
JUDICIARY’S ACHILLES HEEL: EXECUTIVE CONTROL VIA APPOINTMENT POWER
To what extent does the selection mechanism of the judges impact judicial decision making? We document a substantial increase in judicial independence and reduced case delay in Pakistan, as a result of a 2010 judicial selection reform which changed the selection procedure of the judges from the presidential appointment of the judges to the selection of judges by a judicial commission (consisting of peer judges). Using mandatory retirement age as an instrument for new appointments, we estimate the causal effect of the change in appointment procedure on judicial independence and case delay. Better enforcement of laws regulating land disputes with government agencies is the key mechanism driving these results. We further show that the judges selected by the judicial commission are significantly less likely to be politically active prior to their appointments or receive the controversial “Prime Minister’s Assistance Package” (that awards residential plots to the judges) compared to the judges appointed by the president. The new judges who did accept the package are more likely to rule in favour of the government.
THE DICTATOR, THE IMAM AND THE JUDGE: TRACING THE IMPACT OF MILITARY AND RELIGION ON COURTS
How do military coups and religious institutions impact the judiciary? In this paper, we study the impact of military coup and religious institutions on judicial outcomes in Pakistan. Utilizing pre-partition data on holy Muslims shrines that continue to be centres of religious and political influence in South Asia, we show that districts where historically the shrine density was high in 1921, a military coup in 1999 induced the largest decline in judicial independence, case quality and case efficiency. The study of mechanisms reveals that weaker property rights enforcement in land disputes with the custodians of these shrines is a key mechanism driving the results.
GEOPOLITICS, AID LEGISLATIONS AND THE CAUSAL EFFECT OF AID ON GROWTH
Does foreign aid cause growth? We show that foreign aid even when given for purely strategic reasons boosts growth. The identification strategy relies on geopolitical events and changes in aid legislations in the United States to identify the causal impact of foreign aid on output growth in Pakistan. We further provide disaggregated evidence where regions with greater exposure to aid gain disproportionately more during the aid windfalls. An instrumental variable strategy confirms the main results, where we instrument aid shocks to Pakistan by changes in aid legislations in the United States. We justify the exclusion restriction by providing evidence against various alternative explanations such as the confounding of US aid with US trade, investments, non-US aid and military spending. The study of mechanisms reveal that a rise of teachers’ salaries is a key mechanism explaining the results.
TERRORISM AND THE MACROECONOMY: EVIDENCE FROM PAKISTAN
Pakistan with highest number of terrorism related deaths of any country over the past decade, the number exceeding the total terrorism related deaths for both the European and North American continents, offers an important avenue to study impact of terrorism on the macroeconomy (GTD, 2012). Estimates from Quasi-Structural VAR and their corresponding impulse response functions, on a sample that covers over 4500 terrorist incidents and consequent 10, 200 deaths [from 1973 to 2010] imply that bouts of terrorist attacks led to both a short-run as well as long-run impact on key macroeconomic variables. One of the major advantages of the current methodology is that it not only enables one to circumvent the heterogeneity biases inherent in cross-country studies but it also allows distinguishing between short and long-run effects. It is documented that cumulatively terrorism has cost Pakistan around 33.02 % of its real national income i.e. terrorism costs Pakistan around 1 % of real GDP per capita growth every year.
Mehmood, S., 2014. Terrorism and the macroeconomy: Evidence from Pakistan. Defence and Peace Economics, 25(5), pp. 509-534.
RESEARCH IN PROGRESS
HOW TO WIN AN ELECTION? DEVELOPMENT VS NON-DEVELOPMENTAL ELECTORAL STRATEGIES (with Luke Sonnet)
JUDICIAL INDEPENDENCE OVER THE LONG RUN (with Avner Seror)
AN INVESTIGATION INTO THE CAUSES OF ABOLITION OF SLAVERY (with Ekaterina Zhuravskaya)
SEMINARS AND CONFERENCES
2018: Institutional and Organizational Economics Academy (IOEA), American Law and Economic Association (ALEA), Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), Casual Friday Development Seminar (CFDS).
2017: Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), Institutional and Organizational Economics Academy (IOEA), PSE Applied Economics Seminar, DIAL Development Conference.
Statistical Reasoning Fall 2018: Masters in Economic Policy and Public Administration at Sciences Po
Designed and taught the course covering causal inference methods i.e. Randomized Control Trials (Ruben Causal Model), Instrumental Variables, Differences-in-Differences, Regression Discontinuity Design and Propensity Score Matching.