Interactive Dialogues on Countering Violent Extremism - The Composite Report

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SPDC envisioned a consultative process for discussion and knowledge production on violent extremism particular to Sindh province. Recognizing the dearth of context-specific, localized research, it aimed for a series of dialogues as a first step; a rapid appraisal of the on-ground situation to flag which knowledge gaps exist and what the basic variations and similarities were with other VE contexts. 

The Interactive Dialogue series was also meant to provide opportunities for developing linkages between government authorities and civil society stakeholders and providing a platform for interaction between policymakers, researchers, activists, and practitioners. 

As an initial step, a comprehensive literature review was conducted around the four identified themes within the ambit of violent extremism, with a focus on Pakistan, and where possible, a concentration on Sindh province. The literature review helped shape the guiding questions for the dialogues, and presented the acquired collective learnings on the subject, included in each position paper. 

Each of the four dialogues was led by three to four discussants who provided the initial observations and analysis, followed by intensive, free-flowing discussion. The ID groups were kept deliberately small in number, with twelve participants or less, to boost the time allocated for discussion and to raise the level of debate. After each of the four IDs, a follow-up session was conducted with a separate group representing the government and the civil society, where the discussion and findings of the previous group were presented, along with the identified future directions. This was done to fine-tune recommendations and get feedback on any major issues that might have been missed or any nuances lost. 

In each event, participants were assured of confidentiality and encouraged to speak openly. In this report, as well as in the position papers, no quotes have been attributed to particular speakers, and no disclosures will be made about which participant said what. There was however some deviation from the intended methodology after the first three IDs were conducted. This was due to the outbreak of Covid-19 and a consequent national and smart/ contained lockdowns. As a result, the fourth dialogue and the concluding webinar had to be held online via Zoom. 

This composite report brings all the position papers and discussions together. It intends to provide a primer for all the debates and discussions that have been held in the four themes of violent extremism, both, through SPDC’s Interactive Dialogue process, as well as through different writings of national and international scholars and practitioners reflected in the literature review. It hopes to prompt further discussions and research that can build nuanced understanding and move forward on redress. Its conclusions present recommendations for future directions.