Social cohesion is when a society "works toward the well-being of all its members, fights exclusion and marginalization, creates a sense of belonging, promotes trust, and offers its members the opportunity of upward social mobility." (OECD)
We work with local stakeholders, including public organizations and their officials, political and religious parties and their representatives, civil society organizations and activists, and youth leaders. Working under our Social Cohesion program, we bring them together to dispel the extremist and violent fallacies that hamper Pakistan's democratic, economic and social potential. We constantly propagate that peace is the only way toward development and prosperity.
Aahung is an Urdu word that means "diversity creating a singularity."
The United States Embassy's Community Engagement Office funded the project to build social and professional bridges between the University and Madrasa students and teachers in 12 districts of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. It involved holding training sessions for male and female students on identifying fallacies of extremism and violence on social media and their communities and choosing to reject such narratives.
The project brought together academicians from the universities and Madrasas to help them understand each other's worldviews and forge local partnerships to prevent and counter violent extremism and build strong social cohesion. Aahung was a two-year project ending in 2019.
After the success of Make Peace Possible with the Norwegian Church Aid, the donor agreed to support the idea of working with the university and Madrasa students and teachers to connect and work together to build peace on and off campuses. Another fundamental part of the tested approach was to involve the local civil society leaders (media, lawyers, traders, and women's associations) and administrative officials.
The project partnered with the University of Swat and the University of Malakand, and two Madrasas at each location. It invited their academicians to Islamabad for capacity enhancement training sessions, exposure, and introductions to the concepts of building social cohesion. The project ended in mid-2017 and paved the way for "the larger Aahung."
Make Peace Possible
The Norwegian Church Aid, Pakistan Country Office funded the Make Peace Possible. The project partnered with the Abdul Wali Khan University, Mardan and Mardan Press Club to build credible local alliances against all forms of extremist and violent narratives.
Working with the local community and social leaders, Make Peace Possible also brought the local Sikh and Christian community members and their leaders as credible stakeholders, and partners to build and maintain local peace. Make Peace Possible was a short-term project of six months and tested new social approaches to connecting communities with different religious and social backgrounds to prevent and counter violent extremism.
The project ended in 2016.