Notes from the Field: Karachi: Week One

By Saba Imtiaz | January 24, 2017 | Pakistan

Saba Imtiaz is a 2017 IRP fellow reporting from Pakistan on women’s rights and the intersection of religion and culture in Islamic societies.

Firstly, I lucked out with scheduling my trip! The weather is quite lovely (take note, future IRP fellows to Pakistan!), and it's been great to get to work while not feeling like I'm about to pass out from the heat.

I've spent the first week doing initial groundwork for the stories I'm looking to do. I'm here to report on women's rights and LGBTI issues, and I'm focusing on the intersection of religion and culture with women's rights. It's a subject I've been deeply interested in for years, but there was never the time or resources to immerse myself in the reporting. Thanks to IRP, I finally have the chance to do this, but that's not all -- I have the chance to do this properly.

In many ways, this reporting trip should not be unfamiliar: I've worked here before, and I speak the languages, and I know my subject. But now that I live and work in Jordan, I am able to look at the issues from an outsider's perspective, and to use some of the reporting skills I've learned in Jordan in Karachi. For example, at an event I reached out to several speakers, introduced myself at length- just like I do in Jordan, where I'm clearly an outsider - and explained the reporting I'm doing. It's also nice not to have to hassle people for a quote right away - I have time to sit down and chat with them. What's also been great is how open people have been: I literally showed up to a private event held at a residence just to introduce myself to an organizer, and I was invited to stay and observe - that's the kind of connect and rapport that is rare to establish when you're on the go, filing the next day. 

This week, I've reached out to contacts, and thrown myself into networking and going to events. I've scheduled a bunch of interviews for the week ahead, and I'm going to a major educational event next weekend. I'm definitely looking forward to it... now if only someone would help me transcribe!

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