In the aftermath of the Mashal Khan incident, APS and Bacha Khan University attack, the education institutes of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA) have been adversely impacted by extremism. The state of extremism is alarming in the region, extremist attitudes and narratives have grown sharply in universities, undermining the purpose of education institutions. In light on this critical situation, PAIMAN Alumni Trust is conducting a series trainings with the students of Peshawar University, Abdul Wali Khan University, Bacha Khan University and Shaheed Benazir Bhutto University. The aim of the trainings is to inform and educate the youth with the concepts of Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism (P/CVE), peacebuilding and active citizenship. In addition to that, particular attention is also drawn towards the role of women in preventing violent extremism. PAIMAN fundamentally believes that a trained and a motivated youth can play a unique crucial role in addressing the dangers of extremism by creating awareness, exploring the root causes, specifically in relation to the radicalisation of young people, as well as engaging other youth in positive activities.
The on-going training workshops entail several stimulating activities, such as, motivational lecture, role play, drama screenings, leadership and capacity building exercises. The objective of these activities is to make the youth aware of their role as an active citizen by exposing them with the narratives and counter narratives to prevent violent extremism.
The trainings have a profound impact on the mind-set of the youth, for example, several biases regarding the role of women in preventing violence extremism are promptly dealt with, to make the youth more tolerant. Kainat, a young student from the Peshawar University stated;
“Before the coming to PAIMAN I didn’t know women could execute such a critical role in preventing extremism, however, with the help of PAIMAN I feel confident to act as a Peace Ambassador in my community”.
One of the greatest milestone achieved was that the youth was given a chance to become the agents of peace by becoming members ‘TOLANA’ (PAIMAN’s peace network). Furthermore, the youth prepared action plans and devised ways of sensitizing the wider communities from the extremist narratives. The training successfully tapped into the creativity of the students, for example, Bisma, a student of the Pharmaceutical Department at Abdul Wali Khan University devised a unique action plan on the role of pharmacist as an active citizen in preventing extremism by designing posters. The students were made aware of their crucial role as peace ambassadors. Through these activities leadership and advocacy qualities were successfully cultivated in the youth.
Lastly, the students selected their youth leaders and with the help of PAIMAN the university students will conduct university and community peacebuilding awareness sessions, peace walks and peace sports and arts competitions. Sadaf, a young girl from the first semester stated;
“Belonging from a conservative tribal family I have witnessed how cultural barriers constrains women involvement peace-making initiatives. I strongly believe this training has equipped me to address the current challenges being faced by women and the urgent need to take a proactive approach to achieve sustainable peace”.