Introduction by Moderator Shamoun Maayr
WORDE Specialist Waleed Ziad
WORDE Research Fellow Mehreen Farooq
Analysis Highlights followed by Q and A
Click here to view event video in its entirety.
On Sunday October 9, 2011 WORDE hosted a community discussion on “Alternative Channels to Countering the Taliban: The Untold Story of Pakistan’s Civil Society” with WORDE Specialists Mehreen Farooq and Waleed Ziad. Shamoun Maayer, founding member of the American Pakistan Foundation moderated the discussion.
The presentation was based on WORDE’s latest project in Pakistan to understand how civil society is building community resilience to extremism and to explore opportunities for future engagement.
In this unique WORDE project, Mehreen Farooq and Waleed Ziad traveled to 35 cities and villages across Pakistan. They met with over 100 organizations, from Peshawar, Swat, and the tribal frontier, to Kashmir southern Punjab and Sindh to discover how Pakistanis are using madrassas, mosques, shrines and public debates to counter radical narratives at the grass roots level.
“Although we met with both faith-based and non-faith based organizations,” Ziad explained, “our analysis focused on traditional Muslim networks that can counter radical ideologies from within an orthodox framework that is palatable to the at-risk population.”
The team also explored potential areas for faith-based and non-faith-based to collaborate. Farooq explained, “Both groups have different competitive advantages. On one hand, faith-based groups have immense grassroots capabilities and legitimacy, whereas non-faith-based organizations tend to have better institutional capacity. With this in mind, we can network the two groups.”
In their remarks, Farooq and Ziad stressed the importance of rebuilding trust between the US and Pakistan through Pakistan’s civil society. “Without engaging organizations with grassroots legitimacy,” Waleed Ziad noted, “it will be an uphill battle to hold and build in areas where militants have been cleared.”
The presentation featured dozens of photographs from their journey. Foreign Policy Magazine’s AfPak Channel is publishing a series of articles written by Farooq and Ziad. The series includes interviews with former militants, parents of kidnapped children, community activists, jirga members, and religious scholars — the lessons they’ve learned, and the challenges they face — to create a bold social movement to promote peace.