Global support, women’s empowerment are keys to countering Pakistani terrorism

By Kavya Sukumar -- Medill News Service  |  July 1, 2013 at 5:14 PM
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WASHINGTON, July 1 -- Pakistan’s efforts to combat terrorism are misunderstood by most of the world, leading to the misconception that radicalization there is something the country should deal with itself, a former Pakistani regional information minister said Monday.

Mossarat Qadeem, founder of Pakistan-based sociopolitical activism group Paiman Alumni Trust, appealed to the U.S. for sympathetic understanding in countering terrorism in Pakistan while speaking at an event on moderating extremism.

Qadeem, who is the former minister for information, education and social welfare in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, said terrorism is a global issue that is not isolated to Pakistan.

“People should not think that [terrorism] will not cross the borders,” she said. “Pakistan alone cannot handle it all. Pakistan does not have the capacity, expertise or technology.”

“The rest of the world is safe because Pakistan is fighting someone else’s war,” she said. “Don’t give us aid. Give us that sympathetic understanding.”

Shaikh Muhammad Umar, counselor at the Embassy of Pakistan, echoed Qadeem.

“The Pakistani government’s slogan has always been ‘Give us trade, not aid,’” He said. “We want help in combating terrorism. But that does not end with aid.”

Qadeem, through her organization Paiman, works to rehabilitate youth who have been radicalized by extremists. Paiman strives to empower Pakistani women socially and economically.

Mothers are in a position to notice any behavioral changes in their sons and can be most effective in stopping youth from taking up extremist causes, she said. “We help them develop critical thinking. We empower them economically so that they can question their son’s -- the bread winner’s -- actions,” Qadeem said.

In a telephone interview, Dr. Marcia Hermansen, director of Islamic World Studies program at Loyola University, Chicago, agreed on the need for improving the roles of women as leaders. “Muslim women have to be mobilized to be a moderating influence to counter the male aggression,” she said.

Qadeem said Paiman has rescued and rehabilitated 79 young men who have been radicalized by extremists. The organization helps them reintegrate with the society by providing them education, counseling and help in finding jobs.

“Extremism has nothing to do with Islam. It has everything to do with power,” she said.

“We are here to develop a counter-narrative to what the extremists have to say.”

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