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Peace Activism in the Swat Valley

  • Published

    10 May 2011
  • Written by

    Peace Direct

In recent years, Pakistan’s tribal areas have captured the world’s attention as a haven for religious extremists. Militancy and extremism has thrived especially among young people who are mobilised to incite terror – through suicide bombing, torching schools and massacres.

Local peacebuilder Gulalai Ismail set up Aware Girls to challenge violence and extremism among young people in these areas. They have mobilised a network of young activists that stretches across the state and into neighbouring Afghanistan to counteract calls to insurgency, and to build a movement for peace in the new generation.

Each activist will work with three of their peers each month. Afghani volunteer Tafique describes the three people he chose to work with in April:

Mian is 22, he lost his father in a suidide attack, and through this he developed hatred towards the Shias – he seemed vulnerable. Younas is 23 – he comes from a tribal area  - where taking revenge is perceived as a pride and an honour. And Khalis is 22 – last year he was the victim of sectarian violence.

For different reasons all of these young people are at a point where they must choose between perpetuating the violence they have suffered, or breaking the cycle. With Tafique’s help they will learn to question prejudice and violence, and we hope their choice will be for peace.

Tafique is one of 45 trained volunteers – together they will reach out to 210 vulnerable young people in the next 6 months.


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