Sharing Insights from Preliminary Fieldwork in Pakistan

It has been about a month since I returned from my preliminary dissertation fieldwork in Pakistan which took place from early December, 2017 to the end of January, 2018. This served as my exploratory pilot assessment for my dissertation research on the impact of international development policy interventions in Pakistan. The trip was partially funded by the Schar School of Policy and Government.

The exploratory trip was my attempt to reconnect with the environment, since my last fieldwork experience in Pakistan took place 10 years ago, where I worked with the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and the All Pakistan Women’s Association in Karachi. With the primary goal to enhance and establish local connections and get my feet wet among relevant institutions and places in Pakistan, as well as begin my primary interviews among experts and practitioners from various backgrounds, my travels consisted of a longer stay in Karachi, with a few brief trips to other major cities in Pakistan. The trips included a few days in Islamabad, Peshawar and Lahore.

Alongside that, I had the opportunity to briefly travel to other surrounding areas in northern Pakistan, including Faisalabad, in the Punjab province, Rawalpindi, just outside of Islamabad, and the Khyber Pass gate at the Border of Afghanistan and Pakistan, located in the outskirts of Peshawar. In the Sindh province, along with fieldwork in Karachi, I traveled to Hyderabad, Jamshoro, and Tando Jam. In Tando Jam, I had the opportunity to visit the Sindh Agriculture University. In Hyderabad, I visited the Center for Peace and Civil Society, and had a few interviews among journalists and scholars there. In Jamshoro, I visited the US-Pakistan Center for Advanced Studies in Water at the Mehren University of Science, Technology and Engineering. I hope to go into more detail about the fieldwork and overall insights from my travels and visits in upcoming posts.

Although I did not get the opportunity to share a formal blog during my travels, aside from sharing experiences through other social network sites among my colleagues and friends, I will share some general insights about my experience in these cities over the next few months. This will include some observations on how the ethnography, interviews, and data collected will contribute to my research, some articles on critical topics that came about from that experience, for example, on Pakistan’s rural development challenges and other pertinent issues, and also any insights on the process of fieldwork in Pakistan that can be translated in other similar challenging contexts.

I am planning a second more in-depth field assessment in fall 2018. This blog will continue into the final dissertation fieldwork later this year, and more insights may emerge from that experience.

Special thanks to Dr. Akhtar Khwaja for his support during these exploratory travels and fieldwork process. Thank you also to Merit Professor & Ex-Vice Chancellor at Sindh Agriculture University – TandoJam, Dr. Rajab Memon, the American Institute of Pakistan Studies in Islamabad, LUMS Vice Chancelor Dr. Sohail Naqvi, and the Sustainable Development Policy Institute for helping facilitate some key contacts during my trip. This exploratory fieldwork certainly accelerated the data collection and provided me a great foundation for the more in-depth work in fall 2018.

Thank you for reading and please feel free to follow my posts going forward, and during my fieldwork stage, as it continues in Washington, DC and into my second field assessment in Pakistan, later this year.

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