Civil society actors have an immense role in peacebuilding and resolving local conflicts, especially when the rule of law is ineffective or absent. Where unreliable governance, weak economy and natural catastrophes have devastated and displaced millions of people, the burden of strengthening communities and providing services to local institutions is on civil society actors. With the added complexity of terrorist threats, how are Pakistani civil society actors actively working to counter extremist narratives, reduce violence and foster a culture of peace?
On January 19, 2012, the U.S. Institute of Peace, in collaboration with the Institute of Inclusive Security, hosted a panel of experts to examine the ways in which diverse civil society actors, including youth and women, as well as the media, religion and business communities, confront real conflicts with collaborative problem-solving approaches. The Institute for Inclusive Security has partnered with the Pakistan-based NGO, PAIMAN Trust to implement a project in the tribal areas of Pakistan to empower women to moderate extremism.
According to PAIMAN’s Executive Director Mossarat Qadeem, fear and violence has prevented the 99.5% of Pakistanis who are moderate, from speaking out against the extremists. Her work ranges from engaging students in Peshawar to the mothers of young boys who have been influenced by the Taliban. Ms. Qadeem noted that these youth have experienced a lot of trauma and abuse by the Taliban and require psychological counseling. Since working in FATA and Peshawar she said, “We have transformed 17 extremist youth who were would-be bombers. They are now leading lives of purpose.”
In her presentation, WORDE Specialist Mehreen Farooq noted that effective programs like PAIMAN’s must be expanded and replicated. She added, “In order to create a truly national movement against the Taliban, ad hoc programs carried out through informal networks should be institutionalized, and implemented throughout the country. Nothing short of an integrated approach will work.” WORDE is currently working on a report for policymakers to provide additional recommendations for strengthening civil society level efforts to counter extremism.
Executive Director, PAIMAN Alumni Trust, Pakistan
Research Fellow, World Organization of Research and Development
Chief Training Officer, The Institute for Inclusive Security
Sr. Program Officer, Academy for International Conflict Management
and Peacebuilding, USIP
Qamar-ul Huda, Discussant
Sr. Program Officer, Religion and Peacemaking Center, USIP
Kathleen Kuehnast, Moderator
Director, Gender and Peacebuilding Center, USIP
Pakistani Peacemakers: The Challenges for Civil Society Actors
January 19, 2012 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
U.S. Institute of Peace
2301 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20037
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