ASR Programme on Peace and Conflict Resolution

ASR had an extensive and dynamic experience of working on the peaceful resolution of conflicts and have been a pioneer in this area of concern. Its focus on citizenship rights especially of marginalized communities; on divisions, separations, borders and boundaries and on people caught within the fault lines of conflicting divides had given it political legitimacy even among those in contestation. Its position had been that all peace processes and resolutions must been premised on ownership and internalization by those impacted by the conflict or by the resolution.  ASR had consistently focused on the impact of conflict on women and religious and ethnic minorities not only within the conflict but as a result of conflict. Conflict resolution which did not addressed or otherwise had negative impacts on women and other communities or those that lead to further conflicts were of particular concern. All ASR’s activities were linked to the Institute of Women’s Studies and the South Asian Women for Peace both of which had a reputation for rigorous research; academic courses and training programmes. 

ASR’s peace programme had both the credibility and the experience of developing conceptual courses and systematic conflict resolution training and programmes with practical applications to peaceful conciliation and conflict prevention. Since ASR itself was involved in such processes and that the intellectual and training modules were located in ASR’s own experiments and experiences the training had a reputation of being both relevant and dynamic. Over the last few years, the specific activities had been to facilitate the interaction and capacity building of key civil society actors which include NGOs, the media, legal practitioners, educationalists, political activists, key players in the workers, peasant, and fisherfolk movements, minorities, local government representatives, and community workers; and intensive training of mid leveled and grass roots activists.

Since 2005 ASR had built a core group of 40 district leveled activists from Sindh; Punjab; Azad Jammu and Kashmir; Gilgit Baltistan with some representation from Baluchistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. District teams consist of four members with equal representation of women and men and with at least 10-20% representation of religious minorities. In cases where the programmes were intra provincial or across ethnic lines equal representation was given to ethnic and linguistic differentiation. The focus had been on four main areas: women’s rights, women’s rights to land and resources, violence against women; minority rights especially the rights of women from minority communities; provincial rights and inter and intra state conflicts and peace. The issues were crossed identity for instance Muslims worked on minority rights; men worked on women’s rights; minorities worked on peace and conflict; and men who had access to resources worked on women and property rights. This necessitates an understanding of ‘the other side’ and had been very successful in activists getting involved in areas and issues that did not directly impact on them. 

At the micro/community level the activities undertaken by the 40-member training team include engaging with community workers, local leveled media and legal practitioners, school teachers and school students, workers, fisherfolk, peasants, and local political leadership and local government institutions. Both the micro and meso level were brought together with interactions at the macro or national level through advocacy and lobbying processes. The activities had included national and provincial consultations; structured inter provincial exposure and submersion visits; capacity building; formal training and teaching modules on peace and conflict understanding, conflict negotiation skills and developing peace programmes; district level awareness activities; focus group discussions and interactions; on site fact finding and investigations; ‘speaking out’ forums; media monitoring; legislative monitoring; lobbying and advocacy. In the 3rd year, all those in the several layers of the target groups and areas were being brought together in national conference in which national and political players were included. These include representatives of government and parliament, political leadership, and the international community. 

The programme was participatory, inclusive and seeks to build strong relationships and partners and to include the inputs of stakeholders. Over the past years its district coordinators had taken initiatives that had involved approximately 10,000 people. ASR was also a part of several national and regional peace initiatives and was the coordinator of the People’s Peace Alliance (a network of over 500 activists), and the South Asian Women and Peace Institute. It was also a core member of all government and international processes on women, peace and security and was considered not only a lead organization on the 10-year review of SCR 1325 in October 2010 but was considered crucial in linking the local, national and international processes. Further its reputation of being the only organization in Pakistan with a consistent peace building and peace training programme.

Given its role in taking on primary responsibility to wrote the chapter on Women and Peace for the National Report presented by the Prime Minister in the World Conference on Women in Beijing (1995); its inputs in the SAARC Women for Peace; its role in writing the chapter on Women and Peace in the National Plan of Action in 1998, it was responsible for this area of concern in the National Plan of Action on the Empowerment of Women and to work with the Parliament, the Government and Civil Society to work towards formulating a National Plan of Action on Women, Peace and Security. Equally relevant was the role that it had consistently played in building awareness within civil society including in the media and other stakeholders on the impact of armed conflict on women and was training specific stakeholder working in conflict areas and in furthering peace processes.