Pakistan continues to face threats of violent extremism as the government grapples with political and social instability. Numerous terrorist organizations operate within the nation’s borders and continue to launch devastating attacks against the Pakistani people and those in neighboring countries. Despite the launch of the government’s military counter-terrorism operation, Zarb-e-Azb, in 2014, the country has suffered numerous large-scale attacks targeting children and families, police trainees, and the legal community, among others.
While research shows that police operations are more effective at combating terrorism than military force, Pakistan’s police forces are historically under-resourced and plagued by corruption, heavy handedness, and civilian mistrust. Negative experiences with criminal justice sectors corrode public trust in rule of law institutions, hindering their effectiveness and generating grievances. These conditions are conducive to violent extremism and bolster terrorist recruitment. To strengthen trust between police and communities, police forces must be representative of the populations they are tasked with protecting and able to access, communicate with, and respond to the needs of local communities. They must also reduce corruption and abuses committed by security sector actors. Building inclusive law enforcement institutions—where women are recruited in greater numbers and elevated into decision-making within these structures—must be prioritized within an overall framework to counter violent extremism (CVE).
Yet women represent only one percent of Pakistan’s police forces. This gap in the Pakistani security sector remains a challenge to efforts to stabilize the country against terrorist threats.
This case study documents Inclusive Security’s project in Pakistan that brought together a diverse group of women leaders from civil society, police, and parliament to impact processes and dialogues focused on countering terrorism and violent extremism. It highlights a methodology to develop local-led initiatives aimed at creating inclusive CVE programs and policies while aiming to protect the safety and security of participants. By promoting inclusive security frameworks and enhancing the participants’ advocacy skills, the project aimed to increase women’s inclusion as a core component of efforts to stabilize Pakistan and the region.