I am a graduate student studying towards my PhD in Economics at the New School for Social Research, NYC.
Some of you have found the above (by)line that accompanies most of my op-ed pieces insufficient. Some have drawn strange conclusions from the fact that at present I am based in New York City, US. So the following is just to give you my "background" (or lack of it thereof).
I come from a lower middle class family. My parents were divorced and my mother raised her three sons all by herself. She is perhaps the most hardworking person I have ever seen in my life. I grew up in Sialkot - a small industrial city and a military cantonment some 200 km (or so) from Lahore. My mother decided to move to Lahore in 1986 in search for better work opportunities and education for us three boys. She taught in a private school that largely catered to the middle and lower middle class families of Lahore. We went to the same school for our education. Being a teacher's sons we all studied on full-fee-concession. The school fee was not a lot but on my mother's meager salary there is no way she could have afforded to send us to the same school for our education without the fee concession facility.
I have studied at the best institutions Pakistan has to offer - thanks to the generous scholarships/financial aid that was available to me from these institutions and my (extended) family and friends. In 2007, when I was 28, I won a scholarship to study Economics in the US. I have been here since then. I spent two years in Salt Lake City, Utah and earned my MS in Economics from there. I then moved to the New School for Social Research, New York to start my PhD in the same subject. I am set to return to Pakistan next year (2012) once my program ends.
I hope this clarifies the confusion that some of you harbour after reading my op-ed pieces. I do not come from a privileged background, I was born and raised in Pakistan and have spent most of my life there.
And, I don't get paid for the op-ed pieces I write for Daily Times - a fact that can be independently verified from the newspaper's office.