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Land Cruisers Ahmad is a driver for the World Health Organization office in Islamabad, and Tanveer befriended him as they were both waiting in the parking lot one day. The WHO office has a huge fleet of white Toyota Land Cruisers and Hilux pickup trucks (twins of U.S. Tacomas), all of them operated by drivers. Whenever anyone working for the World Health Organization goes anywhere for work, they are required by UN security regulations to ride in one of these radio-equipped, four-wheel-drive vehicles. The Land Cruisers are a highly visible sign of polio eradication; at one meeting I attended in a small Peshawar hotel, the large white vehicles overflowed the parking lot and blocked the road. The vehicles are a luxurious perk for the Pakistani and international employees of WHO; while high-level Pakistani government employees travel in jeeps, low-level government supervisors in the Polio Eradication Initiative use motorcycles or bicycles—often provided for the purpose with international money. The Land Cruisers are also, at times, a real nuisance. They are useful in rural areas with bad roads but useless in Pakistan’s dense city centers, much too wide to drive down the narrow alleyways of the cities and often difficult to park within walking distance of where a WHO employee needs to go. And while there is an enormous fleet of them, at the height of a vaccination campaign they can be in short supply. Some WHO employees argued with UN security staff without success that they should be able to travel without the Land Cruisers. Ahmad has worked as a driver at WHO for several years. A driver’s official job is to drive WHO employees wherever they need to go and wait for them until they are finished. In many cases this extends as far as picking them up at home and bringing them to the office each morning. Drivers also fill many additional roles on an unofficial, ad hoc basis: they are tour guides, translators, and passers-on of gossip and information obtained from drivers of Pakistani government vehicles. Ahmad’s pay is around 15,000 rupees ($250) a month. This is, in general, decent pay, about 50 percent more than government drivers earn. But Ahmad is annoyed that drivers for UNICEF make nearly twice his salary. (UNICEF salaries are high for all positions, which rankles many Pakistani WHO employees, even those who by their own admission are paid decent salaries.) Moreover, like nearly everyone else working on polio eradication—in theory a temporary program—Ahmad’s contract extends for only three months. Thus far, it had been renewed, but, he told Tanveer, “one month I am happy, the next I begin to worry, and the third I feel sick.” ...


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