Ongoing “Excitement” in the “Red Zone”

The advantage of living in the “Red Zone” is that you are in the middle of everything and the buildings of most of the organizations of your interest are all in close proximity. I hope I don’t take that for granted, as I am quite lucky. Today I had a phenomenal meeting with a wonderful person, who spent a lot of time with me, at the Pakistan Secretariat. This was my first time visiting the Pakistan Secretariat in the Nation’s capital and I am grateful I had the opportunity. It was a very old building, that housed the Ministry of Planning, Development, and Reforms. I got to meet the Senior Chief, and he provided me with a lot of relevant documentation prepared by the Ministry of Planning Commission.


As soon as my meeting was over the Senior Chief informed me that I better run because a court ruling of the acquittal of Asia Bibi has come out and there will be “darna” … protests, particularly in “D-Chowk.” D-Chowk was precisely where my next meeting would take place, just minutes away. That got canceled and so have my meetings for tomorrow. 🙁 But while I was driving back to my place of residence, a group of men were sitting together in protest across from the Supreme Court. I am still not sure if it was against the ruling for Asia, but I didn’t look into it. There is always something going on, said my driver, Majid bhai, today when he was dropping me off.

Nevertheless, there remains many tensions in this area, from a multitude of directions. (I published this with the title stating “tensions” instead of “excitement” but changed it because the positive and negative are a form of “excitement” for me as the “fly on the wall” observer.) Police officers and rangers are everywhere. The signs of Kashmir “Black day” have been removed now, but even when it seems like the city sleeps at 10pm, there is ongoing activity. It will continue to impact my meetings as it did today and will tomorrow, and has some other days too. I guess that is the drawback of residing where all the “action” is. We just have to work around it… it can be an interesting part of the fieldwork experience regardless. You can always meet at a coffee shop and still get valuable insights from your informants, as I did later this evening with an individual working with a UN agency…

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