It has been going full speed in my first week of fieldwork in Pakistan. I did not anticipate this, and although the jet lag hasn’t worn off, I am definitely very pleased and excited about what I am learning, exploring, seeing, sensing, hearing, experiencing even in these first initial days and it is only the middle of the week.
Today, I visited the headquarters of the World Bank project in Islamabad. I had a meeting/field interview with the Task Team Leader of one of my major case studies, situated in the Sindh Province. I appreciate that many of these areas are in close quarters to my residence and from each other. It is always interesting to drive around the Government area to check out the Federal buildings like the Supreme Court and Pakistan Secretariat. The National Library is also a gorgeous building structure. The mountains in the distance make the view even more stunning and spectacular. I hope I’ll get a chance to see some of these buildings from the inside while I’m here.
At the World Bank HQ today, it was another invigorating interview. I learned a great deal about the problem of water governance in Pakistan, one of the greatest crises Pakistan faces right now, alongside the intersecting effects of climate change. It was also interesting to learn about the differences between the FATA, Balochistan, Sindh provinces as well as in Afghanistan, with respect to water, irrigation, and community engagement, alongside the difference in the balance of incorporating social mobilization and technical expertise based on regions. It was important to get the perspective at the policy level, on how important it is to have a framework or a strategic vision and plan to implement. It was scary to hear that most people in power know that the “business as usual” is going to destroy or deplete these critical water resources in Sindh, but the “lack of will” is a serious challenge. My case study on the World Bank’s Sindh Water Sector Improvement Project has an important role in the province. Public agencies and communities need to coexist, communicate, and collaborate better on roles, responsibilities, and needs.
On another note, everyone has been informing me it is quite safe to be traveling around most areas in Pakistan which is reassuring to hear. I know that is the case with Islamabad. If you are connected and have the right connections, if you have a safe mode of transportation, and if you have a targeted destination and purpose, Islamabad is doable even if you are new to the city. But those times where I have gotten “lost” are also beautiful and grand opportunities to learn and see some other types of beauties in Pakistan. Overall, don’t believe what you hear in the news. Anything can happen anywhere. And we have to be cautious, but cannot always live in fear. We’ll forget to take in the air and stop to smell the roses.