SAVE Pakistan Activities

New Hope for a New Beginning, India-Pakistan Youth Dialogue

On 22 November 2011, Women without Borders/SAVE-Sisters Against Violent Extremism facilitated a dialogue event between Indian and Pakistani youth in Mumbai to bridge the longstanding political divide between these two countries and create a more stable future for the region.

Committed female youths from both sides demonstrated their commitment to defying longstanding stereotypes between Pakistanis and Indians and to finding new ways for dialogue.

The dialogue event, entitled “New Hope for a New Beginning: Breaking Down Barriers between Indian and Pakistani Youth”, was hosted by the Department of Sociology at the University of Mumbai, in cooperation with the Defense University of Islamabad.

No Struggle Can Ever Succeed Without Women Participating Side By Side With Men

Shabana Fayyaz, SAVE Pakistan representative and Assistant Proffessor at the Defense and Strategic Studies Department of Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad, reflects on the critical role of women in combatting extremism in Pakistan, and on the inclusive teachings of Quaid, founder of Pakistan.

In Pakistan women deserve a critical role to play at the state/society policy shaping and making level. Women in Pakistan constitute more than half of the country's population. Female icons since the creation of our country have played and continue to play a decisive role on all fronts - yet their role as 'agents of change' remains under-appreciated, both by themselves as well as state/society at large.

The SAVE Pakistan chapter is a step in the right direction to make unheard stories of women’s contributions known. Women’s role in ‘social cohesion’ needs to be registered through multi-track interventions. That is, investing in the training and capacity building of existing women-based networks to counter extremism at the micro and macro level.

There exists a critical gap in the existing indigenous literature on women and extremism accompanied by a tendency to frame women as ‘victims’ and not recognizing their role as ‘healers’ in society. By following a victimhood lens, the women are mostly reduced to being either a ‘sufferer’ or a ‘silent spectator’, ignoring the ground realities. The fact of the matter is that women have a central role simultaneously at the family and at the community level. At times, particularly in the case of SWAT, it was womenfolk that served as a critical fund-raiser plus a victim of Maulana Fazlullah’s so-called ‘Islamization’ drive. Many mothers were aware of their sons’, brothers’ and husbands’ radical tendencies but looked the other way purposefully, thinking that it would lead to an equitable and just society - as pronounced by Maulana Fazlullah’s in his sermons through a mobile radio network in the area.

To read the rest of this article, please visit our blog.

The Women’s Dialogue: India-Pakistan

Mumbai, November 2010 - Vienna, January 2011

In November, 2010, five SAVE Pakistan representatives travelled to Mumbai on the invitation of SAVE India to take part in a bridge-building dialogue. The results of the dialogue were presented to a large audience in Vienna in January 2011. The goal of this dialogue project is to offer participants the opportunity, accompanied by experts, to practice conflict resolution and dialogue within a small circle. Within the framework of this project, getting to know the “other side” across cultural and religious boundaries is facilitated, while an exchange on the personal level is accelerated. In regular meetings, the foundations for a further interaction between Indian and Pakistani women are laid, in order to reduce tensions and deconstruct prejudices.

The first such dialogue in Mumbai, in November 2010, brought together Indian and Pakistani representatives of academia, the media, victims of violent extremism, and activists helping those victims. In a two-day process, the representatives shared their stories and expertise. They discussed the commonalities between the two countries which should be emphasized to discredit the enemy image that each country has of the other. The representatives then came up with concrete recommendations that will be implemented by both chapters, including instigating a witnesses of history project that will tell victims’ stories in schools. Please visit our blog for further details of this project.

In January, two representatives each from SAVE India and SAVE Pakistan came to Vienna to present the outcome of the dialogue. SAVE Pakistan representatives Mossarat Qadeem, Executive Director of the PAIMAN Trust, and Shabana Fayyaz, a Professor in the Defense and Strategic Studies Department of Quaid-I-Azam University, as well as SAVE India representatives Archana Kapoor, Founder of SMART NGO, and Anita Pratap, a leading journalist and best-selling author, gave their impressions on the dialogue in an event hosted by Rudolf Hundstorfer, Austrian Federal Minister of Labour, Social Affairs and Consumer Protection. To read more about this event, please click here.

The dialogue project is carried out within the framework of the project “Political Conflict Resolution Starts at Home! Funded by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Consumer Protection.

Empowering Women to Sensitize and Mobilize Against Extremism
London, October 2010

SAVE Global invited Mossarat Qadeem to London on October 21 to present the activities of SAVE Pakistan and highlight the vital role women can play in combating violent extremism. At the event, held in the Austrian Embassy and hosted by Ambassador Dr. Emil Brix, Ms. Qadeem described her experiences working with susceptible youth in Pakistan’s FATA and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces. Ms. Qadeem has over 20 years of experience working in these areas, and has set up centers for conflict prevention and peace building that train university students in local communities. Through these centers Ms Qadeem has reached 35,000 youths and 2,000 women. Through working with these women, Ms. Qadeem has been able to identify young boys at different stages of radicalization and reach out to them. Ms. Qadeem and her team work with the boys’ mothers and sisters to understand the role they can play in countering the process of radicalization, and to explain that their activities have nothing to do with Islam. Ms. Qadeem has also personally dealt with and negotiated with the Taliban.

SAVE has teamed up with PAIMAN to provide trainings to women in these areas, giving them the tools they need to identify and challenge extremist ideologies in their surroundings and to empower them to seek alternatives to radical discourse. The audience, which involved many students, members of the media and London’s international community, partook in a lively question and answer session after the presentation. To read more about this event, please click here. To read quotes from Mrs. Qadeem’s speech, visit our blog.

SAVE Pakistan Meeting
Islamabad, April 2010

Members of SAVE Pakistan met to create an implementation plan for the SAVE Mothers for Change! global campaign and to make a statement against violent extremism. The discussion focused on how to shape the project. Participants decided that work would be carried out in three phases. Initially, 20 potential women would be identified to be trained by the Trainers who took part in the May 2010 Train the Trainers camp in Austria. The training workshop would be held in Islamabad, hosted by the PAIMAN Alumni trust. In phase two, these 20 women would hold a total of 8 training workshops in different cities, each composed of 20-25 participants. Each of the participants will then sensitize a further 10 women. This network will link with PAIMAN’s Peace Networks and carry out a media strategy focusing on the need to act against extremism, as well as holding peace vigils and meetings. In phase three, there will be annual conventions in Islamabad of all activists sensitized through the project in order to share best practices and discuss the future of the campaign, as well as monitoring and reporting on the activities of SAVE Pakistan each year.

The meeting also adopted the following resolution to work against extremism in Pakistan in the aftermath of suicide attacks in Peshawar and Dir:

-Terrorism and extremism in Pakistan is extremely complex in nature and calls for sustained civil society initiatives, specifically by women, to rise against this menace.

-There is an urgent need to understand the human costs of the acts of terrorism that have resulted in the killing of thousands and thousands of innocent civilians across the country.

-SAVE Pakistan will strive to work proactively to raise awareness against extremism in society at large.

-SAVE Pakistan will continue to partner and participate in a number of international and national initiatives focusing on mobilizing women against extremism, radicalization and violence.

To read more about this meeting, please click here.

“We don’t want to lose our country”. Pakistan in Crisis: Female Voices from the Ground

Vienna, March 2010

Arshi Saleem Hashmi, an expert on religion and politics in violent conflicts in South Asia, came to Vienna on the invitation of Women without Borders / SAVE to give a talk at the US Embassy. Ms. Hashmi is a member of SAVE Pakistan and a senior research analyst at the Institute of Regional Studies in Islamabad, also working at the National Defense University. She gave a detailed insight into Pakistani society and the political spectrum, only one side of which usually appears in the media. Although Pakistan is often associated with Islamism, Tribalism and Ethno-nationalism, Ms. Hashmi painted a picture of a society full of contradictions, with a lively civil society. Through new means of communication, more people are demanding political participation and freedom of expression, and a discourse about the political situation and Islam is beginning to evolve.

To watch the panel discussion on video, please click here.

The SAVE Pakistan Petition: SAVE - Peace Bridge in Pakistan

• Women in Pakistan desire peace through dialogue, understanding and engagement, both at home and abroad.

• Peace through force or bullet never pays, and will be short-term unless the root causes that give rise to extremism and violent behaviour are addressed through a holistic and comprehensive approach at the micro and the macro level.

• We are change leaders and must be proactive in our different capacities to foster tolerance and courage in the face of violence and militancy.

• We need to sensitize ourselves and the world to the hardship and sacrifices that our fellow women are making for all of us in the ongoing war against extremism. We must come forward to facilitate the transition for Internally Displaced Families to the best of our capabilities and resources.

• We are committed to being part of the SAVE initiative within our country and beyond, and will look forward to forging new links in this regard.

Submitted by: Ms Shabana Fayyaz, Ms Salma Malik, Ms Arshi Saleem Hashmi, Dr Shaheen Akhtar, Ms Farhat Akram, Ms Sharmeen Chinoy, Ms Mossarat Qadim.

Please follow the links below to read statements from our SAVE activists:

"Female Voices from Pakistan". Listen to our SAVE activists from Islamabad

"The Show Must Go On". Thoughts from Arshi Saleem Hashmi on the current situation

Logo SAVE - Sisters against violent extremism

Archana Kapoor, Edit Schlaffer and Vinita Kamte (f.l.t.r.) with a group of mothers in Mumbai

Edit Schlaffer and Vinita Kamte in Mumbai, April 2010

Participants with Vinita Kamte, author of To the Last Bullet

Pakistani and Indian scholars and students at the University of Mumbai

Edit Schlaffer and the Pakistani and Indian panelists at the India-Pakistan Youth Dialogue

The Women's Dialogue, Mumbai meeting, November 2010

Vinita Kamte admires the work of the children who participated in an art workshop expressing their feelings about violent extremism