The story of Khawar (changed name) is taken from an experience of a friend which is more like a mixed methodology of case study. The structure of the story is starting with the introduction of why and how the violent extremism is get into existence and the good experiences are share to getting back to normal life as Khawar did.
Motivation to the young people to bridging the communication gap between parents and children is given.
Then the experiences and influenced has been discussed and finally a conclusion or suggestion is given that how to counter violent extremism through good parenting, taking schools and teacher on board and connecting government as well.
“Few years ago, I never thought I would ever be at this peace which I am feeling now, I was a violent extremist”, said Khawar – pin drop silence in the hall which was jam packed with 600 youth. Khawar has proved it is possible for young people to leave violent extremism and start a new happy life. He started working with a group of young people working on youth empowerment to prevent others from heading down the same path once he was on. He says, his story can be change message for those who are already on this path or even thinking to choose Violent Extremism as a solution.
Khawar grew up in an area which was surrounded with hatred and extremist. His family and neighbors were also somehow contributing in the extremist future of this 19 year boy. His father was an army retired his mother once used to be a social worker. His mother left her job when she became a victim of the villagers who were against the foreign funding and aids. She was harassed many times in front of her kids who were not old enough to understand why it was happening. And on complaining to her husband he used to shout and asked her to leave what she was doing, at times beat her in the name of honor. Seen, all of these Khawar was therefore having a background in extremism and on this basis he started hating foreign people even though he had no actual negative reason with that. This hatred and extremism in his family was compounded by the rough experiences he was experiencing with or without his parents in the area they lived.
Khawar used to think about no justice exist in the world for him and his mother, being like other Pakistanis he was more attached to his mother and he started thinking life is unfair and he tried to finish his life once. However, Khawar started giving the extremist thinking a direction with hating foreigners rather than the people who had harassed his mother and family. This was, because whenever his mother complaint to his father he used to beat her and always making her responsible for all the things happening with their kids and media was also contributing its part. All of these led Khawar to be part of an extremist group and started befriending with the people who had somehow the same stories he had. The hate for foreign aids and the people also made him hate the minorities living around him. And the violent extremism started with a group of brain washed young boys of the area. He wore the mask of pious Muslim by offering 5 time prayers and following all the values and respect just to influence more people to use them against the people he doesn’t liked. He brainwashed his fellows and formed a brotherhood for good in their eyes but humanity never excepted. When he saw he was more influential in the group he started enjoying it and this main reason young people joining violent extremist groups sometime that the no more are afraid of anyone.
Khawar was a leader now, he planed many activities, convinced his circle of influence and sometimes forced to do what he orders and he started ordering behind the group he had to do unacceptable things and beaten up the minorities for which he regretted at times. The group used their power to terrorized number of people, including international tourists and minorities. Khawar wishes if he could correct the regret going back in the past.
On a trip to Northern part of Pakistan Khawar had a fight with his group members in a local hotel and his friend threw him away from the room, as Northern areas of Pakistan is very cold even in summers. He was bleeding and the left him outside under a tree tore even his Kurta, it was mid night and no human being were awake. A tourist photographing the epic scene of Milky Way at night heard a voice near the tree and holding his breath he reached near and found Khawar bleeding and had high fever. He took him to his room, cleaned the wound and gave a pain killer and asked him to sleep on his bed. In the morning his friends ran away with all the things. He stayed with the photographer for two days and asked his leave. The photographer gave some warm cloths and money to return home. That day changed his mind that the foreign aids and organizations, people and what faith have nothing to do with one’s good and bad. He then realized the extremism can only destroy and harm the society which is not an effective method to deal with the turns and twists or odds of life.
In having an open mic session with 600 youth Khawar asked the audience to be part of positive campaigns which spread love, care, peace and nonviolent ways to deal with the grieve o the society and be a positive influence and use their knowledge and voice to end convince youths that violent extremism is not the way to solve problem.. He said to the leaders who spread hate speeches and betray the young people are not believers of God. Khawar said the best direction to your anger is to get out of that zone, find that hidden creativity within you and direct it with positivity and love.
“Go to parents tell them how much you love them and share how you feel when they fight and share what you feel and ask their forgiveness and guidance, trust me you will feel like a newborn baby, innocent and who knows only the language of love and your parents will never guide you bad, they will listen to you and they have to because they love you..” Said Khawar with tears filled in his eyes.
Khawar is now at peace after he left the group and feel the change in his life. He is also helping many of his friends leave the group who really want to. He is now differentiating the double faced extremist groups and trying to show it to the young people who are innocent and joined the group just because they wanted to get out of their problems. Khawar is working with many iNGOs and other NGOS reach the vulnerable youth moving young people away from Violent Extremism even though he has been attacked and threaten many time. He wants to help parents to help their kids and school to give special attention to the kids after he left the extremist group. The parents, schools/teachers and the government officials can be the best triangle strong allies to help the young people getting prey in the hands of the extremist groups.
Zar Nigor Tojik