WORDE Researchers Travel to Over 35 Cities in Pakistan to Understand Grassroots Efforts to Counter Violent Extremism and Stop Talibanization
WORDE Specialists Mehreen Farooq and Waleed Ziad recently travelled to 35 cities and villages across Pakistan to explore avenues for developing civil society’s capabilities to counter extremism. 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 grassroots level. The purpose of the research is to promote US-Pakistan engagement at the civil society level to not only counter violent extremism but to win hearts and minds to ensure long-lasting regional stability.
In October 2011, WORDE hosted a community discussion Alternative Channels to Countering the Taliban: The Untold Story of Pakistan’s Civil Society with Farooq and Ziad. Shamoun Maayer, founding member of the American Pakistan Foundation moderated the discussion.
The team has also briefed policymakers in the National Counter Terrorism Center (NCTC), the State Department, USAID, USIP and the Department of Defense’s Strategic Multilayer Assessment Team (SMA) for Afghanistan-Pakistan. The research has also been presented to the Global Forum for Counter Radicalization in Paris, at the Expert Meeting in Brussels on Pakistan and Pakistani Diaspora Communities hosted by the European Commission and the US Mission to the EU, and the RAND Corporation.
Project Media Coverage
In addition to interviews by Voice of America (Serbian, Pashto, and Dari, TV Ashna) and the Associated Press, the Foreign Policy Magazine’s AfPak Channel is publishing an exclusive five-part series of articles written by Farooq and Ziad. The articles have been cited by Pakistan’s largest daily, Dawn, and reproduced on several popular international blogs.
The Foreign Policy Magazine series includes interviews with former militants, parents of kidnapped children, community activists, jirga members, and religious scholars — highlighting the lessons they’ve learned, and the challenges they face to create a bold social movement to promote peace. In addition to the articles, WORDE will be publishing a report with recommendations for policymakers this Spring.
- The Battle for Pakistan’s Soul, (September 1, 2011), focuses on jihadi recruitment methods throughout militant hotspots in Southern Punjab.
- Pakistan’s Most Powerful Weapon, ( October 21, 2011), explores anti-Taliban public awareness campaigns led by religious networks and community development organizations to spur grassroots efforts to counter violent extremism.
- Evicting the Taliban from Swat, (November 2, 2011), highlights how local communities used civil society organizations, the media, political structures and the military to create a national social movement against the Taliban.
- Out-Recruiting Pakistan’s Extremists, (February 29, 2012), discusses youth efforts to stem radicalization in Pakistan.
- Pakistan’s Bid for Tolerance, (September 26, 2012), a photo essay of WORDE’s research across Pakistan.
To sponsor an event, or for media inquiries, please contact Mehreen Farooq (Mehreen@worde.org).