1) Engaging diverse religious leader to promote culture of tolerance, reconciliation and peace
This project aims to increase the capacity and leadership abilities of three crucial demographics—imams, Interfaith leaders and madrasah teachers—that inadvertently support intolerance of others and consequently promote the coercive narrative of violence lauded by extremist groups, in order to direct their capabilities and influence toward reversing these trends. A key component of this effort is the promotion of higher-quality education (including an emphasis on critical thinking skills, tolerance for diversity, and other life skills) and alternative narratives to violent extremism within Pakistan’s private religious schools (madrasahs). The project will (1) build the capacity of imams in selected Pakistani districts to counter violent extremism and (2) train madrasah teachers in educational enhancement, with a focus on developing the capacity of the most influential madrasah leaders in countering violent extremism and promoting tolerance and inter-sectarian, inter-faith, and inter-cultural coexistence.
The project seeks to address the vulnerability and pervasiveness of religious narratives based on violence and intolerance at the community level. The project is targeting 18 districts of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhawa (KPK). Through a multi-layer community engagement and religious actor-training, this project will train religious actors representing madrasah faculty, mosque imams and interfaith leaders. The training action will be followed by an extensive community outreach campaign to promote local buy-in, an environment of openness to messages of peace and tolerance, and nurture a broader positive social change.
2) Countering Sectarian Narratives in Pakistan
With the second largest population of Muslims in the world, Pakistan is home to an incredible diversity of Islamic communities. Though various sects have existed side by side for generations, a surge in violence inspired by sectarian animosity has left thousands of people dead in the past decade and each year the number of atrocities increases. This bloodshed has been fueled by extremist organizations that propagate intolerant and exclusivist ideologies and narratives. The Pakistani state and civil society has made little to no effort to curtail the spread of these sectarian narratives. While these narratives do not always inspire violent action, they nonetheless justify distrust and suspicion of those with differing faiths. These popular misgivings make it challenging for the government or civil society groups to openly and directly confront whatever radical minority is perpetrating the actual violence.
To address this critical need, the Peace and Education Foundation (PEF) is engaging major religious and civil society stakeholders in a structured dialogue to develop and disseminate a counter-narrative to sectarian divisiveness and promote peaceful coexistence. This effort is relying on a coordinated outreach program driven by a network of mid-level religious and civil society leaders who will be trained as advocates and supported by regional “Rapid Response” teams made up of influential religious leaders who can leverage their wide social networks and media presence to defuse outbreaks of sectarian tension and embody inter-sect cooperation.
3) Religious Leaders Supporting Democracy in Pakistan
The project aim is to promote democratic values and culture of dialogue in local community, the project engages Pakistani religious leaders for the promotion of democratic ideals and values in Pakistan. This effort will rely on an outreach training program for middle and grass root level religious leaders. The project aims at developing capacity building of religious leaders for active and democratic citizenship. The main focus of the project is promoting to increase support for democracy and human rights at grass root level.
4) Reducing Earthquake Risk in Pakistan through Engagement of Religious Communities
This project is designed for earthquake risk reduction in Pakistan, where poor quality construction puts millions of people in danger from expected future earthquakes. This pilot project is an internationally collaborative program for the larger benefit of Pakistani community. The project is spreading awareness for the risk of earthquake and other natural disasters. The project brings together Pakistani and international earthquake scientists and engineers together, to focus on disaster risk reduction for hazard-prone areas of Pakistan. The project is designed to contribute a new element of community engagement to a comprehensive natural disaster education program for Pakistan that will improve the understanding of earthquake risk in Pakistan local community and build the capacity for managing earthquake risk.
5) Society for Peace and Conflict Management(SPACM)
Society for Peace and Conflict Management (SPACM) is a volunteer student society working with a mission to eliminate all forms of racial, ethnic, linguistic, political and religious bigotry through peace, love, respect, and culture of tolerance. The purpose of this initiative is to channelize joint efforts of university and madrasah youth in promoting peace, to raise awareness, respect for diversity, and to work for conflict resolution. The madrasah and university youth has been positively mobilized through this forum. They are now working for the promotion of peace and tolerance at local community level. SPACM started its campus-based activities in 2015 at University of Haripur with PEF support. The creation of SPACM was inspired by PEF University Certification Program (UCP) in 2015.
SPACM through its peace-building activities encourage student’s leadership for peace and conflict resolution. The SPACM members carry out their activities through-out an academic year. These activities include celebration of peace weeks, smile weeks, good manners weeks, tolerance weeks, respect weeks, service to humanity weeks, and peace through sports etc. These student Peace Leaders give speeches and presentations on interfaith and other peace related themes. Many other component of SPACM activities aim to bring madrasah students to universities to exchange ideas and develop the solutions for bridging the gap between the two segregated segments of Pakistani youth. Based on success of madrasah-university joint student activities PEF will create more SPACM bodies in different partner universities in coming year.