My Doctoral dissertation was defended on July 23, 2021 and published on ProQuest in October, 2021. The following is the Acknowledgements section from my dissertation.

Dissertation Acknowledgements

Awaaz Diya Hai…” They gave us a voice…We have to do it ourselves. But we will follow the path they showed us, and “Inshallah” (God-willing) we will achieve success.”

The words of Sheharbano Burki, the General Secretary of “Roshni,” a Local Support Organization (LSO) in Village Gogi Magnejo, Khairpur, Northern Sindh, Pakistan, struck a chord for me. I was brought forward unexpectedly, in front of village women seated in a U-shape, presented the Ajrak, a customary tradition of memaan nawazi (hospitality and welcoming). The intent was to be a “fly on the wall,” but that was not always my experience in this country.

The pursuit of my doctorate has been a personal, intellectual, and professional journey, an undertaking that was supported and facilitated by multiple, interconnected “villages.” This section cannot possibly cover the overwhelming support I received throughout this journey to develop my scholarly voice. There are many that deserve mention, and I must ask forgiveness for any exclusion of names, and I hope to have an opportunity to make up for it in the future. The execution of this challenging project was enriched entirely because of the many who gave me a chance to engage and listen, beginning with those at my university.

I am grateful to the George Mason University, Schar School of Policy and Government, for the opportunity to fulfill my aspired journey in qualitative research and for providing the resources and support during the process. I express much gratitude to the Smith Richardson Foundation, World Politics and Statecraft Fellowship that funded most of my fieldwork in Pakistan. I appreciate the Daniel Druckman Fellowship in International Conflict Resolution in helping me complete my research, analysis, and writing in my final year. And I thank the Schar School for the extended support from several doctoral research grants. Many thanks to Dean Mark Rozell for being very supportive throughout the process, and always encouraging us throughout the program. I also appreciate all the vital logistical support from Beth Eck and Shannon Williams over the years.

This project could not have been possible without the inspiration, guidance, direction, and mentorship from my dissertation committee. I greatly appreciate Desmond Arias for challenging me and believing in my potential. My sincere appreciation to Peter Mandaville for seeing value in this research, helping me think outside the box, and encouraging me through difficult stages of the fieldwork and data analysis. Thank you to Jennifer Victor for the incredible support, encouragement, and empowerment throughout the research process, and for introducing me to the Political Networks community. It was a privilege to work alongside you at the APSA Political Networks Conference and Workshops in Summer 2018 at our School. I am truly grateful to you for helping me become a better writer and scholar.

As indicative in this research on aid-policy, time, commitment, and consistency is necessary to build lasting relationships and outcomes. Thank you, Ken Reinert, for a relationship of consistent mutual respect and trust since the beginning of this program. I appreciate you taking a chance on me and this research endeavor, which became a “high maintenance project,” and thank you for helping me understand the importance of patience, humility, and kindness in scholarship, along with persistence.

Among other faculty at Schar, I must give special thanks to Pris Regan for an enriching graduate research assistantship experience and your mentorship and support at the School. Sincere appreciation to Jack Goldstone, John Earle, Jerry Mayer, Edmund Zolnik, Jessica Srikantia, Roger Stowe, Bob Deitz, Bonnie Stabile, JP Singh, Janine Wedel, and Ahsan Butt. I greatly appreciate your advice and conversations over the years. I’d like to also thank my professors and colleagues Muge Finkle, August Nimtz, Barbara Frey, Siddharth Chandra, Dan Whitman, Donald (Goldy) Goldstein (late), and Maxine E. Bruhns (late), from my previous educational endeavors that brought me here, to whom I remain grateful.

Additionally, I extend many thanks to my colleagues and friends at Schar for the camaraderie and community necessary to push forward in the program: Camilo Pardo, Maurice Champagne, Addilyn Chams-Eddine, Raja Ali Saleem, Karelle Samuda, Yi-Ting Chiu, Hong Zhang, Sebastian Stolorz, Mehdi Nayebpour, Neslihan Kaptano, Andrew Paterson, Ben Fernandes, Lokesh Dani, Keith Waters, Hiromi Akiyama, Aminata Ndiaye Tall, Mufeeza Iqbal, Sasi Gopalan, Mary Boardman, and a very special thanks to Nazia Hussain and Dana Dolan for your mentorship, especially in qualitative methods at pivotal points in the program. Special thanks to those I engaged with outside of my program as well: Patricia Andrade, Christos Mavrodimitrakis, Farhod Yuldas, Joseph Shaheen, Sarah Shugars, Bi Zhao, Bruce Desmarias, Matthew Pietryka, Irene Molino, Olivia Nantermoz, Bilal Shakir, Mircea Lazar, Vanessa Buckland, Mary Langan, Salman Rafi, and Tauhid Bin Kashem. I want to also extend appreciation to my friends and colleagues in my offline and online networks. I appreciate the encouragement from you during different milestones in this journey. Thank you very much to Muneer Karcher Ramos, Noreen McMahon, Jamie Harris, Tara Maguire, Iman Byrnes, Susan Samaha, Farooq Yusuf, Sarmed Rashid, Larisa Romanenko, Brandon Sternquist, Adam MacGregor, Jeff Dexter among many others whom I regret not mentioning.

There were many people during my research in Washington, DC and in Pakistan and Afghanistan that provided the necessary support, advice, and encouragement for this difficult research endeavor. I would like to emphasize that the acknowledged here and elsewhere in this section do not necessarily reflect my conclusions and analyses. And again, please extend my sincere apologies for excluding any names in the exhaustive list.

Among my colleagues in the DC community, I want to express my sincere thanks to Taha Gaya, Salik Farooqi, Nadia Naviwala, Blaire Glencorse, Ambassador Robin Raphel, Andrew Wilder, Moeed Yusuf, Michael Kugelman, Clare Lockhart, Sahar Khan, Jumaina Siddiqui, Neha Ansari, Shamila Chaudhary, Marvin Weinbaum, Shuja Nawaz, Ambassador Hussain Haqqani, Kiran Pervez, Samad Sadri, and Adam N. Weinstein.

Tapping into my personal and professional networks in Pakistan introduced me to many colleagues and friends who helped facilitate the fieldwork and who guided me in developing a stronger understanding of this region. I thank Senator Khushbakht Shujat Ali Baig, our family friend, for your support and facilitation in Islamabad, along with the stay at the Parliament Lodges during my time there, which was vital in the access I achieved. Much gratitude to one of my mentors Dr. Rajab Ali Memon who passed away two days after my defense. I cherish your memory and appreciate all your support during the fieldwork in Sindh. Many sincere thanks to: Dr. Sahar Gul, Jami Chandio, Dr. Kazi Memon, Mumtaz Memon, Zulfiqar Halepoto, Mohammad Ameen Memon, Dr. Sohail H. Naqvi, Nadeem ul Haque, Saeed Ul Hassan, Yasir Bangish, Dr. Mubashir Ahmed Bhatti, Dr. Abid Qaiyum Suleri, Dr. Vaqar Ahmed, Dr. Sarfraz Khan, Toru Kinoshi, Qaisar Raza, Hyder Yahya, Syed Tanwir Husain Bukhari, Sartaj Aziz, S. Ejaz Wasti, Dr. Fakhrul Islam, Agha Ali Javad, Salma Khalid, Junaid Ahmed, Nadeem Akbar, Dr. Ayesha Khan, Engr Zuhr Khan, Shehryar Toru, Wasif Naqvi, Samia Batool, Imran Khalid, Haider Zaman, Adnan Khan, Zahid Wazir, Dr. Muhammad Ismail Kumbhar, Dr. Zia ul Shah Hassan, Aftab Solangi, Farzana Sayed Abassi, Engr. Shadab Ahmed Bughio, Dr. Nisar Ahmed Memon, Dr. Fateh Muhammad Marri, Marium Minhas Bandeali, Ghulam Akbar Malik, Abdul Majeed Pirzada, Gaffar Pirzada, Dr. M. Aslam Chaudry, Dr. Iqrar Ahmed, Anwar Rashid, Imtiaz Alvi, Karim Khan Qamar, Pervaiz Ahmed, Ayesha Khan, Mujibur Rahman, Munazza Khan, Dr. Parveen Azam Khan, Azaz Ud Din, Samina Afridi, Shireen Gheba, Shujat Ali Baig, and Abdul Rauf Butt.

From those in District Tharparkar, Sindh, much gratitude to Ali Hafeez Azmat, Harish Soni and Vishal Kumar along with the Rotary Club of Mithi for the facilitation in District Tharparkar. Thanks Dr. Sono Khangharani and Zaheer Udin Babar Junejo from Thardeep. Sincere appreciation to Dr. Mahesh Kumar Malani, Sushil Malani, and Pawan Mahesh Malani, as well as the entire Malani family and the Soni family in Mithi, Tharparkar for their hospitality, welcoming and support. Many thanks to Mohsin Babbar, Mohammad Hingorjo, Khunesh Harani, and several others I engaged from the Thar Coal project.

I’d like to also extend my sincere gratitude to the large network of those associated with the Rural Support Programmes, most especially Shandana Khan, Shoaib Sultan Khan, Akhtar Iqbal, Masood ul Mulk, Khaleel Ahmed Tetlay, Zulfiqar Dittal Kalhoro, and Dr. Roomi Hayat for the facilitation efforts and guidance. Additionally, I thank Shar Khadim, Sanober Shaikh, Jamal Mustafa Shoro, Muzaffar Hussain, Asad Ali Jatoi, Babar Jagirani, Abdul Mannan Chachar, Ahsan Shaikh, and countless others from the SRSO for giving me time in Sukkur and the surrounding areas. I appreciate others in the AKDN and AKTC, including Wajahat Ali and Sumera Murtaza, for the invaluable and memorable tour of the Lahore Fort and Walled City.

While fieldwork travels could not occur in Afghanistan, I am grateful to Dr. Rohillah Amin at the American Institute of Afghanistan Studies for his guidance and to Shaharzad Akbar for her insights and generosity, as well as many informants from DC and Pakistan. I also appreciate the resources and support received from several institutions, including the American Institute of Pakistan Studies, the American Institute of Afghan Studies, the Sustainable Development Policy Institute, the American Pakistan Foundation Leadership Council, and the Rural Support Programmes Network.

I must express my gratitude to those who helped transport me to different places in Pakistan. Among them is Majid (bhai) Khan, with whom I had a lot of memorable adventures. I also thank Hassan Uncle, our family driver in Karachi for over 40 years, and Fazal Jaan for a memorable time in interior Sindh and District Tharparkar.

I’d like to acknowledge the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the UNRWA Gaza 5K community events/fundraisers for additional support through this difficult journey, especially within the past seven years.

Most importantly, I am in great debt to my family. Many sincere thanks to my five brothers and sisters, Sidra, Sana, Sabih, Sami, and Shariq, with whom I first explored Pakistan, part of my many cherished memories from our childhood. I appreciate you accepting the sacrifices I made, the difficulties I had experienced, having faith in my capabilities, and being there at critical junctures of this journey. My sisters, Sidra, and Sana, especially, I am forever grateful for you believing in me and being there at some of the most challenging moments. I also thank my brother-in-law Shah Nawaz Dodwad, Farah Tabassum Auntie, Moiz Syed (Masroor) Uncle, Salman Aziz uncle, and Khalid Khan uncle for their support over the years. Finally, I must thank all my extended family in Karachi, Pakistan, a list of names which is too exhaustive for this section, to whom were supportive of my research endeavors, guiding me along the way.

The hardest part of an endeavor like this is having to accept that the sacrifice, struggle, and challenges impact those closest to you, especially in times of crises. It is why my most sincere gratitude and dedication of this dissertation, and all efforts that follow it, indefinitely, is to my father, Dr. Akhtar ul Islam Khwaja and my mother, Mrs. Talat Khwaja. Through my recent expeditions in Pakistan, I learned more about your country than I have before and I owe much gratitude to my parents for taking me and my siblings to this part of the world since our younger years, and instilling a strong appreciation for the country, and for travel and exploration.

To my dear mother, my Ammi, Talat, which means “divine light,” I know your great sacrifice that transcended my own. Thank you sincerely for your immense patience, understanding, love, and endearment, and the many care packages containing your delicious chicken bhiryani you would send me. The bhiryani (also known as “the pot of gold”) was more than enough to tell me you were rooting for me. Beyond that, always telling me to be strong and have courage was fundamental for my survival through this program.

And lastly, to my dear father, Dr. Akhtar Khwaja, my Abu, my partner in some of my earlier travels across Pakistan, from the Khyber Pass gate of Peshawar towards Torkham, to a grand tour at your college in the Sindh Agriculture University (SAU) in Tandojam, thank you for being my biggest supporter of this dream in pursuing this PhD, for the countless hours of intellectual conversations, and for the everlasting encouragement, friendship, and trust. Thank you for helping me understand your philosophy behind service, and how we “live for others, not only for ourselves.” You and Ammi gave me the reasons for why I should attempt to fly, and through your duas (prayers), I will aim to stay in flight.

I hope that we continue to remain resilient, invest and enhance our social capital, and find empowerment, individually and collectively, through our connection.

“All your scholarship would be in vain, if at the same time you do not build your character and attain mastery over your thoughts and your actions.” – Mahatma Gandhi