USIP's networks of facilitators in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan provide peaceful counter to the pull of extremism and promote bottom-up conflict resolution.

Given U.S. troops' involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, Pakistan's stability ranks high on the list of U.S. national security issues. While many problems must be dealt with at the central and provincial government levels, there is also an urgent need for bottom-up conflict resolution, where Pakistanis themselves resolve issues that have the potential to escalate and further threaten their country’s stability.

Since 2009, USIP has trained 95 Pakistani conflict managers to mediate and manage conflict non-violently. USIP’s Academy for International Conflict Management and Peacebuilding began a program in 2009 to develop a network of conflict resolution facilitators to resolve issues at the community level. The program is modeled after the successful networks of conflict resolution facilitators that USIP has developed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Since the program began, participants based in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province (KPK) and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) have been active in training others in their organizations and communities on conflict resolution techniques and also mediating conflicts on the ground. The network has registered a number of successes in the FATA and the Swat Valley of the KPK.

The facilitators peacefully resolved two land conflicts, and one land conflict is being managed non-violently. In addition, a conflict that divided several nongovernmental organizations along ethnic lines was settled without violence, as were conflicts regarding humanitarian assistance to flood victims and jurisdictional issues between two journalist unions.

One network member put together a case study on a conflict his organization helped resolve peacefully involving a dispute over economic and environmental issues concerning a local marketplace in Miandam. The Swat Valley is particularly interesting because it was under siege by the Pakistani Taliban from 2007 to 2009, when the military regained control. The valley is considered safe now but the memory of its turbulent past remains.

Given the success of the KPK- and FATA-based network, in June 2011 USIP expanded the program into Sindh province with particular focus on Sindh’s capital, Karachi. Karachi is of extreme importance to Pakistan’s long-term stability, as it is the commercial and financial hub of Pakistan and is riddled with a diverse set of problems, including political, ethnic and socioeconomic conflicts. The Academy, in conjunction with a local partner, conducted the fourth training-of-trainers workshop in Pakistan, which was held in Karachi. 

The Academy representatives co-trained with three of our original KPK and FATA participants in order to continue developing the capacity of original network members. Additionally, the local partner trained on several USIP conflict management frameworks to increase its own training capacity, which is critical for the sustainability of the program. The goals of the June 2011 workshop were to expand the network of  trained professionals to Sindh Province, to connect USIP's KPK- and FATA-based network members with the Sindh participants, to build trust among the participants, to develop non-violent dispute resolution capacity, and to identify, analyze, and problem-solve Sindh-based conflicts.

The 40 new Sindh-based network members include 17 professionals from nongovernmental organizations, eight journalists, six academics, four law enforcement practitioners, four local government officers and one religious scholar. The workshop consisted of advanced conflict analysis, recognition of conflict ripeness and problem-solving skills. Communication, negotiation and third-party skills were also taught and practiced throughout the workshop. Participants worked individually as well as in groups. Follow-up training will continue the problem-solving process. It will also include a workshop on how to train in the above conflict resolution techniques in their classrooms, organizations and communities.

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