Moderating Extremism in Pakistan:
Working with Women and Youth to Prevent and Resolve Conflict

Mossarat Qadeem, PAIMAN Alumni Trust Executive Director

Photos | Transcript | Press Coverage


Washington, DC—On July 1, 2013, Pakistani activist Mossarat Qadeem spoke on “Moderating Extremism in Pakistan: Working with Women and Youth to Moderate Extremism” at an event cosponsored by the Women’s Foreign Policy Group and the Institute for Inclusive Security. Qadeem spoke about her organization’s role and methodology in moderating extremism in Pakistan. She discussed her work with young men engaged in extremism and their mothers to turn the youth around and foster peace within the country. Qadeem also emphasized the need for greater understanding from the international community of the challenges Pakistanis face on a daily basis.

Qadeem founded the PAIMAN Alumni Trust, an organization dedicated to working with marginalized Pakistani youth to pull them away from extremist influences. Since beginning her work with PAIMAN, Qadeem has helped to de-radicalize 79 young boys and over 400 more are seeking her help. Qadeem uses varying methods to help youth overcome their indoctrination, including psychosocial counseling and group therapy. To help prevent youth from returning to extremism, PAIMAN provides life skills training so that they can become self sufficient. Many youth that Qadeem has worked with go to participate in groups called TOLANA [Pashto for together] to foster social cohesion and conflict transformation in their communities.

Qadeem emphasized the important role mothers play in de-radicalizing youth, because they are often the first to notice their son’s behavior and attitude changes. She believes that it is important to empower mothers economically so that they are more comfortable questioning whether their sons are receiving support from extremist groups.

Qadeem refuted the generalization that all radicalization takes place in madrassas. She acknowledged that some madrassas breed radicalization, but that of the 79 boys that she de-radicalized, only 5 were from madrassas. She went on to note that though radicals often cite the Quran, in her opinion, extremism is rooted in money and power and has nothing to do with the religion of Islam. Qadeem believes one way of countering this radicalization is to develop and teach a counter-narrative based in the Quran.

When asked how the international community could help, Qadeem emphasized the need for foreigners to understand the situation on the ground in Pakistan. Qadeem called upon international actors to think of Pakistan from a human angle, and remember that the solutions lie within Pakistan. In terms of US foreign policy, she suggested that if the US ceased drone attacks, that they could reallocate the money saved to build infrastructure and create employment opportunities, which would help create more stability in Pakistan.


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Mossarat Qadeem, PAIMAM Alumni Trust Executive Director, addresses WFPG and the Institute for Inclusive Security

  WFPG President Patricia Ellis, Mossarat Qadeem, and Institute for Inclusive Security Director Jacqueline O'Neil

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Patricia Ellis and Mossarat Qadeem

  Ambassador Robert Pearson of IREX asks a question
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Nitin Bajaj of the UN World Food
Programme poses a question

  Fozia Fayyaz, of the Embassy of Pakistan,
speaks during the event

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