The decade long militancy and weak governance in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) has greatly deteriorated the security and socio-economic conditions in the region. This has adversely affected the livelihood of the locals, thus increasing their vulnerabilities and disenchantment. It has been proven that the youth constitute the most vibrant, yet the most vulnerable part of our society and lack of opportunities for the youth makes them an easy prey to the extremist narrative.
PAIMAN’s theory of sustainable peace is grounded in its belief that empowered and informed communities can become beacon of change. Since its inception, PAIMAN has embarked on the journey of creating positive impact at the grassroots level by building their capacity in various aspects of community peacebuilding, active citizenship, leadership and volunteerism.
For this purpose, PAIMAN aims to positively engage vulnerable youth and strengthen their capacity by developing their skills in community leadership, mediation, and peacebuilding, indicators of violent extremism, preventive strategies, early response mechanism, networking and advocacy. Along with that, PAIMAN provided the vulnerable youth with life and basic livelihood trainings to orient and prepare the youth minds for a positive change. The life skills component of the training included aspects such as critical thinking, volunteerism, team building, community peace building etc. The purpose of imparting these life skills was to equip the youth with tools which would help them work for their own and their communities’ betterment. The main idea of the entire process is to take them out of their environments and help them build their positive attitude so that they may become more responsible and productive citizens to actively participate in ensuring stability and harmony in their areas and contribute effectively in its development. To help prevent extremism PAIMAN is currently training vulnerable/extremist youth by positively involving them through a phased wise engagement and transformation process to become part of PAIMAN’s community peace network ‘TOLANA’.
The training has had a profound impact on the mindset of the vulnerable youth as it has been able to positively gauge the energy of the youth. In addition to this livelihood skills were also provided, such as mobile repairing, driving, bag making and screen printing. It is expected that after acquiring the training of different livelihood skills of their choice, this vulnerable youth would contribute to the income of their families. The added income is expected to improve the quality of their lives and make them responsible members of their communities. Moreover, they have become active members of TOALANA- PAIMAN’s Youth Peace Network and after receiving PAIMAN’s training the youth are carrying out community awareness sessions as post training assignments in their respective areas. TOLANA has provided them with a platform to express their opinions freely, network and has given them a sense of belonging, aim and goal in life.
Adnan a young 18-year-old boy from Mohmand Agency stated:
“I was in close contact with extremist groups recruiters before undergoing PAIMANs training, but today I feel more enlightened and empowered because now I have been made aware and educated with the true meaning of Islam which is PEACE. Now I can really talk to people what peace and jihad in Islam really mean and the importance of unity and tolerance in our society. I am thankful of entire team of PAIMAN who gave me light of peace and we want to wish that everyone in Pakistan should get this”.
Another boy from Swat- Ahmad stated:
“PAIMAN, has provided me with knowledge, I feel empowered and equipped to speak to others about Islam peace and harmony in my region. I am eternally grateful to PAIMAN for providing me with livelihood skills, now I plan to enroll in a driving school and start my career as a taxi driver”.
Overall, PAIMAN Alumni Trust work has been instrumental in identifying extremist/vulnerable youth as well help in bringing their communities together and are encouraging reconciliation through community networks, building connections and information sharing against multiple challenges and obstacles.