National University of Sciences and Technology (Pakistan)


While Pakistan is currently producing epidemiological research examining the number of infections, death rates, and the areas hit hardest by this pandemic, there is an absence of research examining the social and technical implications of Covid-19 in Pakistan. To address this dearth of research, through the experiences of three generations of people living through the social-distancing restrictions enforced in Pakistan, this project will examine: how people cope with social distancing measures that disrupt emotional intimacy in their everyday lives; how people use digital technologies to engage in virtual social interactions that compensate for and retain their emotionally intimate relationships; and why people embed technologically mediated social interactions in their everyday lives during this pandemic crisis. We have designed an online qualitative study that will enable us to collect rich empirical data through telecommunications platforms, whilst accounting for the social-distancing measures currently enforced in Pakistan. Through the research team’s contacts, we will utilize purposive and snowball sampling techniques to collect data from at least 30 participants (10 from each generation) or until the “saturation point” is reached. This research will gain institutional ethical approval to ensure rigorous standards of health and safety, informed consent, privacy, and confidentiality. The findings will be disseminated to a wide audience of practitioners, policymakers, academics, and local and global communities through an essay for the SSRC’s digital forum Items, a journal paper published in Lancet, an online news story in the Guardian South Asia, as well as through Radio Pakistan and BBC Urdu Radio Talk.

Principal Investigators

Zujaja Wahaj

Assistant Professor, International Business and Marketing, NUST Business School, National University of Sciences and Technology

Dr. Zujaja Wahaj is a grant winner of two successful research projects on the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Pakistan. She is a holder of the Pakistan Higher Education Scholarship and the UK Charles Wallace Scholarship, which examined the lives of HIV-infected women. Her doctoral specialization was in the area of health, gender, migration, micro-contexts of human relationships, and ethnographic research. Her current research explores collaborative challenges of our time such as the gender/health dimensions of climate change and the gender/class nexus of digital platforms in purdah societies. Dr. Wahaj is experienced in collaborative online research projects and remote teaching through her institution’s distance learning program. Through her extensive research experiences, she is able to understand and respect the sensitive emotional struggles of vulnerable and marginalized people; gain their trust by maintaining the privacy of sensitive information; and analytically engage with subtle nuances in the physical and virtual presence in the lives of people facing structural inequalities. Furthermore, Dr. Wahaj has strong community connections where the proposed project would be conducted as well as active social networks with three generations of people residing in Islamabad, including experts in the field.

Oliver Kayas

Senior Lecturer in Business Information Systems, Manchester Metropolitan University Business School

Dr. Oliver Kayas is an experienced senior lecturer in the Business School at Manchester Metropolitan University. His research interests revolve around the impact digital technologies have on societies, organizations, and individuals. He explores these interests through the rubric of surveillance to examine the social and technological conditions giving rise to surveillance, the different forms of digital surveillance, the organisational forms surrounding pervasive employee monitoring, the ways in which people experience surveillance, and the privacy implications of surveillance technologies. His research includes a portfolio of 20 outputs in international journals, book chapters, and conference contributions. He is a director of the Board of the UK Academy for Information Systems (UKAIS); a committee member of the North Western Operational Research Society Group (NWORG); a postgraduate research lead at Manchester Metropolitan University; and the pathway lead for the Digital Technology Solutions degree apprenticeship programme.

Asfia Obaid

Assistant Professor, National University of Sciences and Technology, Islamabad

Dr. Asfia Obaid has extensive experience in academia spanning over 20 years. She currently heads the Management and & HR Department at NUST Business School, where she has developed and taught courses in the areas of human resource management, general management, and organizational behaviour at undergraduate, postgraduate (MBA, MS HRM, and PhD), and executive MBA programs. She has also supervised over 70 research projects and theses of graduating students. Her research interests include strategic HRM, employee psychological contract, performance management systems, and compensation and rewards. She has contributed towards the creation of knowledge through numerous publications, funded research projects, and consulting projects that include designing of HR systems and policies and training programs for notable national level, public, and private organizations. She primarily engages in qualitative research and has expertise in data collection and analysis techniques within this domain.

Lubaba Sadaf

Assistant Professor, National University of Sciences and Technology, Islamabad

Dr. Lubaba Sadaf is assistant professor in the NUST Business School at National University of Sciences and Technology, Islamabad, Pakistan. She is an experienced academic and a researcher. Her teaching and research interests are centered around sociology of gender, with a focus on culture and social inequalities, intersections of gender, violence, and transnational migration, ethnicity, diversity and inclusion. She is active in research and has completed two funded projects recently.