First Publication from PhD research explores challenges of ‘Localization,’ amid ‘Fragility’

{Featured photo: The National Monument in Islamabad, Pakistan, 12-25-2018}

Welcome back to my page!

I have an update to share here before the end of the year.

My first article on my doctoral study was published with the Journal of Asian Public Policy earlier this month. It is entitled,

“Localization in Fragile Spaces: A Comparative Networks Evaluation of Community-Based Programmes in Pakistan and Afghanistan.”

The article is available online now and will be assigned in their upcoming Special Issue: “Poverty Alleviation in Asia: a Comparative Perspective,” when the full volume is ready.

It can be found through this link here:

This piece presents an overview of my dissertation research design and some initial findings. I explore some of the challenges to the efficacy of prominent community-driven development (CDD) networks in Pakistan and Afghanistan through the lens of the network theory of social capital. Integrating multiple qualitative methods with social network analysis, I provide an exploratory relational assessment of prominent CDD programs along with some corresponding insights from fieldwork completed between 2017 and 2019. The study analyzes multiple interrelated structural conditions from global development networks that create opportunities and challenges toward local ownership and sustainability, and in the context of ‘fragility.’

{Photo: At the Khyber Pass Gate, near Pak-Afghanistan Border, December 19, 2017}

Along with the whole-network analyses and diagrams, the article shares valuable field insights gathered from various stakeholders on rural development policy during fieldwork in Pakistan, and remotely for Afghanistan. It contributes some critical points on the varying challenges and successes of the context-specific models and frameworks. I plan to continue building from this study and what I share in the forthcoming dissertation project.

As a small milestone in the PhD journey, it shares a scratch of what I have learned thus far. It was surreal to see these networks and research in print, since I began exploring the World Bank programs in 2014. I hope to share more observations & stories from the research overall, beyond the dissertation project in the near future.

{A view from a Wazir Khan Mosque Tower in the Walled City, Lahore, Pakistan, Nov. 23, 2018}

There were many great insights from my research informants and participants during the fieldwork. There was one particular comment that I shared in this piece that struck me during the interview and analysis…

A humbling statement in an interview with Mr. Dittal Kalhoro, the cheif executive officer at the Sindh Rural Support Organization:  “They are poor, but more wise than us.”

{Photo: Feb 27, 2019, SRSO in District Sukkur, Sindh, Pakistan}

These concise words signify the continued relevance and importance of community consultations throughout every element in the process, from project inception to closeout. Indeed, the challenge of translating exogenous, induced models alongside existing local structures is an age-old conundrum. The aid interventions, especially CDD, are conducted with the best of intentions as ‘most minimally invasive.’ The statement was in the context of the SRSO’s efforts, under the Rural Support Programmes of Pakistan, which promulgate more endogenous, organic initiatives. As the article states, these programs implement a model for “social mobilization” that originated from the Orangi Pilot Program in Orangi, Karachi, conceptualized by Dr. Akhtar Hameed Khan, was adapted up north to Gilgit Baltistan under the leadership of Shoaib Sultan Khan, and ultimately replicated across Pakistan, initially with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (SRSP in 1989) and eventually with SRSO in 2003.

{Outside the Orangi Pilot Project Research and Training Center, Karachi, Pakistan, March 12, 2019}

While programs have been progressing in the direction of ‘self-reliance,’ ‘self-help,‘ more can be done to meet this challenge through greater innovation in development analyses and methods in impact assessments, as I note in the article, from project inception, duration, at closeout, as well as a few years down the road, to absorb critical lessons that can be shared at the household, communal, regional, and international level. I hope this study makes a small contribution to this critical conversation in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and other similar contexts.

I appreciate your time in reviewing the article, please feel free to offer constructive feedback or comments. I will continue to explore these important questions to help build up the ‘theory of change’ for development analyses.

If you are unable to read the full version online, and would like to read it, please send me a message or comment below.

Thank you for reading!

I look forward to updating you with news, and more insights from research in the near future.

For reference, you may visit my Publications page here. Forthcoming publications will be updated there.

Earlier this year, I received my copy of a new textbook for research methods: “The SAGE Handbook of Research Methods in Political Science and International Relations.” As a co-author (second) with Dr. Jennifer N. Victor on the “Network Analysis: Theory and Testing” chapter in the new Sage Book, it was my first co-authorship in a textbook as well. I am with much gratitude to have been a small co-contributor in this amazing book, alongside Dr. Victor, as I have found this a fantastic resource this year! They generously provided a hard copy of the two volumes to all contributors. I’ve been reviewing some of the chapters, which are really helpful even at my stage. The chapters in this book bring up important questions, methods, and concepts in Political Science and International Relations, and I’m looking forward to reading more of it over the holidays!

In case you are interested, the book can be found here:

It is slightly cheaper on Amazon as an ebook or hardcover:

{I plan to revamp this website with more photos from the fieldwork and other writing as they emerge, in addition to other new themes/features into the new year, so please feel free to return for updates!}

These days, as we reflect on the ‘unprecedented’ challenges that emerged from 2020, and our unique and common experiences during this trying time, we should also take pride on what we were able to accomplish, certainly if we were lucky to be in a position of this privilege.

During my fieldwork and even now, I continue to reflect on how precisely our “positionality” can influence different aspects of field research and data analysis. In some ways, we embrace a “researcher bias.” In other ways, we must honor the objectivity and be sure to note the “positionality” as a disclaimer. I’d like to reflect on this and discuss more in the future.

So even with the things we could not accomplish, we can honor what we were able to achieve, as we continue our unique journey forward.

Wishing you all a smooth end of the year…. finish it strong! I’m looking forward to a brighter, more hopeful, more successful 2021!

Thank you for visiting!

{A view of the road to Torkhem, towards Afghanistan, passed the Khyber Pass Gate, December 19, 2017)


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