Pakistan’s Civil Society – Alternative Channels to Countering Violent Extremism

WORDE Report October 10, 2012  | Authors: Hedieh Mirahmadi, Mehreen Farooq, Waleed Ziad

Rising extremism in Pakistan has drawn attention to the need for greater engagement with moderate Muslim networks and civil society organizations that can effectively counter radical narratives and decrease the pool of recruits for militant organizations. In Pakistan’s Civil Society: Alternative Channels to Countering Violent Extremism, the authors argue that over the last decade, U.S. policymakers have focused most of their attention on engaging with government, military, and intelligence establishments, to the exclusion of civil society actors.

Calling for renewed engagement between the United States and Pakistan’s vibrant civil society, the report offers a comprehensive study based on in-depth fieldwork in 35 cities and villages across Pakistan and interviews with over 100 civil society activists, former militants, jirga members, and religious scholars. The report concludes that traditional Muslim networks buffer the rise of extremist activity and offers suggestions how U.S. policymakers and the Pakistani American community can help rebuild U.S.-Pakistan relations by actively supporting these networks.

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Praise for Pakistan’s Civil Society: Alternative Channels to Counter Violent Extremism

“A must-read for anyone who is seeking to better understand the complex and multi-faceted country that is Pakistan.”

– Lisa Curtis, Heritage Foundation.

“Policymakers in Washington should take note of WORDE’s report and recommendations. I very much agree with their findings that faith-based organizations are uniquely placed to confront the narrative of extremists, engaging them at an ideological level. Their call for increased capacity-building, financial assistance and material support are “right on” because we need to bolster those voices that are bravely defending their country and their faith from the encroachment of violent ideology that so often leads to death and destruction.”

– Knox Thames, U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom

WORDE’s research has also been commended by Pakistani American leaders, as “An extraordinary amount of hard work, travel, and network building.” According to Aakif Ahmed, Co-Founder of the non-profit Convergence, “Nobody has done that level of research about this sector in Pakistan. If knowing is half the battle, I think this is the first time this sector has gained this kind of visibility.”

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