Exploring the Streets of Karachi….and Heading to Interior-Sindh

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(Photo taken in Clifton, Karachi area)
It has been about three weeks since I moved to Karachi, and as I had been making plans to travel to interior Sindh, I had also been reflecting and thinking about my experience in Islamabad/KP. At times, especially the first week back to Karachi, I caught myself just sitting and staring at the wall or towards the breathtaking view of the sea outside from our apartment balcony.. Partly due to an intense exhaustion … partly an element of dismay, as I search for some understanding and answers to the many questions I came with, many of which I now know will not be answered for this study…
Admittedly, upon leaving KP/Islamabad, along with needing a week or so to recover and catch my breath, I did not have the courage to put many of my observations and experiences and reflections down in writing on my computer, or even with a pen and paper in my daily journal, largely because of a fear that I cannot do justice to all that I went through, most of which I did not document on an online forum. I’m still struggling with it now, but one must try regardless. And thankfully, the inspiration in this great city of Karachi, which can be seen as a “microcosm” of Pakistan, in many different ways (socially, culturally, economically, politically), has been limitless, fueling all the senses … and especially igniting a necessary curiosity due to the stark differences in life in Karachi from life in Islamabad…
Interestingly, I have been asked by several different people in my interviews in Pakistan, why I chose Pakistan as my primary case study. I appreciated this question immensely especially from Pakistanis here because there wasn’t that immediate assumption that I get from many in the US, that of course she is studying Pakistan because of her ancestral origins and her identity. I would explain to them why I find Pakistan to be a fascinating case study as it relates to the “aid architecture” and international development policy, its socio-cultural complexity, its geopolitical and geostrategic significance, the regional and international significance, the value of a “relational assessment,” most importantly the diverse inhabitants, and more. But I cannot isolate this truth that there is definitely an element of a personal connection, which is partly why I have considered this doctorate a personal and professional journey, and partly why the value of this degree is beyond just a degree or a political document.
Sifting through my journal, I read something I wrote upon arriving to Karachi, a few weeks back for a short two-day trip to Karachi. There is a distinct stench in Karachi that took me a good week or two to adjust to, especially after being exposed to the “freshness” in Islamabad. You learn to accept this stench and the many other smells in different cities in Pakistan after spending as much time as I have had so far in this country. It is clear that Karachi needs a lot of work to be “cleaned up”, and has great potential to be more beautiful than it already is, with so much to see and do in this vibrant city… In every (major) city of Pakistan, you find a “purana” (old) and a “naya (new)”. And everywhere in both “purana” and “naya” areas of Karachi, you’ll find some concrete walls, road barriers or sidewalks beautifully painted with phrases like “love Pakistan” “pride for Pakistan” “clean green Karachi,” “clean green Pakistan”, but tragically, the dirt, pollution, litter, garbage on the streets makes it so much more difficult for people to live and even get around… and when something rare like rainfall occurs , as it had recently…chaos tragically ensues, without any proper drainage system on most streets, especially around “purana” Pakistan…
IK’s first move in Karachi (and throughout Pakistan perhaps), should have been (should be) to clean up these streets … To improve livelihoods and to beautify and preserve the “purana” areas especially, and especially of one of the most populous cities in the world.
Photos in this post show the streets of “Naya” Karachi, areas of Clifton or Defense, and then “purana” areas of Nazimabad, and also the morning after photos from the rainfall that caused us to get stuck in Gulistan-e-Johar one evening after a rare rainfall. Will add more beautiful photos of Karachi another time…
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After three weeks in Karachi, catching my breath, I am making the big leap to travel to interior Sindh. I will be there for about a week this time, being based in Jamshoro, and holding meetings there, as well as traveling to Hyderabad and Mithi, Tharparkar. I have already arranged some meetings with relevant stakeholders, including the World Bank program case studies I selected for Sindh: The Water Sector Improvement Project and the Sindh Agricultural Growth Project. Looking forward.
I hope to share my experience and observations of when I return from the trip!

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