A talk by Dr. Muntassir Sattar on "I don't have Sifarish! Or Why Educated Men Are Unemployed in Urban Pakistan”

Dr. Muntassir Sattar

On 22nd September 2016, Dr. Muntassir Sattar delivered a talk titled "I don't have Sifarish! Or Why Educated Men Are Unemployed in Urban Pakistan” as he shared his experience of research in Lahore. The session commenced as Dr. Faiza Mushtaq, Chairperson Social Sciences, introduced the speaker to the audience at the jam-packed Seminar room.

Muntassir Sattar is a Pakistani-American researcher, who recently earned a PhD in Anthropology from the Teachers College of Columbia University. He has taught at IBA, SZABIST, and Forman Christian College and currently serves as a consultant in market research. He occasionally writes for Dawn and volunteers with Behbud, a Pakistani NGO. His research focuses on youth, migration, education, and urban life.

He initiated the proceedings by shedding light upon the research methodology. He posed the question “How do you make sense of all the data you collect?” and then explained how identifying patterns, looking for themes and organizing statistics help you make sense of the data. He then talked about his specific research in Lahore and said, “One of the running themes I pointed out from the interviews was fresh graduates continuously saying that I don’t have a SIFARISH, which gives us a signal that nobody hooked me up and I don’t have power or the connections with the people who have power.” Dr. Sattar highlighted the importance of Sifarish and Rishwat (Bribe) by sharing certain anecdotes from the people he got acquainted with during his research.

The talk soon shifted towards the significance of CSS and why people are still hung up on being an officer. While pondering more on the topic, Dr. Sattar said, “I don’t look into a secular education. I looked into the formal education.” He continually quoted the famous Sociologist Marcel Mauss to authenticate his work and bridge the gap between Anthropology and Sociology in the context of his research. After acknowledging the contrasting context between the different provinces and its effects, Dr. Sattar brought an end to his talk by saying, “All I’ve heard during my research is that there is no merit in Pakistan and it saddens me.” While intriguing questions were asked by the audience, the session concluded as Dr. Faiza presented a token of appreciation to the speaker.