PUBLIC RESISTANCE TO EXTREMISM IN PAKISTAN IS A CONTINUATION OF ASMA JAHANGIR’S TRADITION: DR. ANITA WEISS
Known American scholar Dr. Anita Weiss has said the ongoing wave of resistance to violent extremism in Pakistan is a legacy of the late activist Asma Jahangir. She was speaking at the Asma Jahangir Memorial Lecture 2021, organized by South Asia Democracy Watch in Collaboration with the Wilson Center in Washington DC.
She said the ordinary people in Pakistan are resisting extremism in fine arts, literature, and educational fields, which is largely ignored by the mainstream media. Unfortunately, even Pakistanis are unaware of this public outrage against the militant armed groups.
This year’s lecture was focused on her new book “Countering Violent Extremism in Pakistan: Local Actions, Local Voices.”
She lamented that despite the overwhelming public resistance to violence, the government signed agreements with terrorist groups and negotiated deals with them. Highlighting details of the movements across Pakistan, she said people’s protest is bold and innovative. They create music, generate art, write poetry, and implement innovative educational strategies, teaching peace and harmony among ethnic and religious groups.
Discussing details of these efforts, she said, poetry in Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is raising voices against violence. In addition, Bacha Khan educational institutions teach peace and critical thinking to children. Similarly, Zoya Science Schools in southern Punjab teach peace through science and technology to students. Musicians in Sindh, Punjab, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa also resist extremist groups using folk and modern musical traditions.
Introducing the Speaker, SDW Executive Director Dr. Qaisar Abbas said, Dr. Anita Weiss does not work on her research projects in her office. Instead, she frequently visits Pakistan to attend festivities, meet people in the field and communicate in Urdu. SDW board member Aftab Siddiqui also participated in the discussion as part of this virtual webcast.