“Amercan policy makers and military leaders should something learn from Mortenson. He is a philanthropist and he has achieved which was more difficult then military action. He got Long-term success in the tribal regions of Pakistan. US policy makers should also relies that Pakistan and takes patience, resilience and the ability to listen”.
Barack Husain Obama’s recently exposed and announced new military strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan is expected more aggressive campaign in northwest Pakistan, as illustrated by the decision to send thousands of additional troops to the “Afghan and Pakistan” region by the end of this year. Which totally far-opposite as muslims had expectations to Barak Hussain Obama
In a different area of US-South Asian commitment, American Greg Mortenson recently received Pakistan’s highest civilian honour, the Sitara-e-Pakistan (Star of Pakistan), for his efforts in promoting peace in its rural regions. Mortenson’s approach, however, doesn’t involve counter-terrorism operations or robust troop numbers.
His “weapon” for curbing extremism? Educating girls. His modus operandi: drinking lots of tea.
I recently had the opportunity to meet with him in IDPs Pakistan at Media centre SAWAT and saw him in action. We spend 3 hours together and discussed on some recent issues spicily education in rural areas. I triad to explore him. After 3 hours meeting with him feeling shamefully myself and taunted on our uninformed NGOs and selfish politicians who don’t bother about nation and next generation in other words on education.
Mortenson is the founder of the non-profit organisation Central Asia Institute (CAI), which has built nearly 80 schools in the most remote areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan and provides education to more than 33,000 children, including 18,000 girls. He told that the pehople of this Regan are well manner and friendly he had tea with the Taliban, religious clerics, tribal chiefs, village elders, heads of government, militia leaders, conservative fathers, intimidated teachers and nervous children, Three Cups of Tea 🙂 He says “The first cup, you’re a stranger; the second cup you become a friend; the third cup, you’re family”,
He has spent more than 70 months in Pakistan and Afghanistan, walking for miles on treacherous roads and sitting in the dirt for hours talking to villagers. “Whoever he sits with, he gives them so much respect”, says Mohammad Nazir, one of Mortenson’s Pakistani colleagues at CAI. “People want to be with him, have tea with him.”;-)
Language doesn’t seem to be a barrier. He speaks some Urdu, Balti and Farsi but, in the end, he does more listening than talking. In each village, he asks the mothers how he can help them. “he always asks, ‘What can I do for you?. They all respond, “We want our children to go to school.”
His story is where the real lessons lie for winning “hearts and minds” in the region. When I asked this process can take several years, he replaid Mortenson is in no hurry. In one village, it took eight years to convince the local council to allow girls to attend school. By the time the school opened in 2007, there were 74 girls enrolled. One year later, the number had tripled.
he involves everyone in the community. They contribute meals, labour, land or cement to help build the schools. In his model, there is transparency in how funds are used. Every family is assigned a role, so the entire community has a vested interest. No wonder only one CAI school has been attacked by the Taliban. Even then, the local militia leader fought back and the school reopened two days later.
Not only US foreign policy-makers and military leaders but also so called Pakistani politicians and NGOs have something to learn from the results Mortenson has achieved. Long-term success in the region takes patience, resilience and the ability to listen. It takes understanding people’s culture and faith and involving them in shaping their own futures. This approach is the best defence against the advancement of extremism.
Ultimately, it takes building relationships perhaps one cup of tea at a time. Obama would be well-advised to consider a new surge strategy that sends thousands more tea drinkers to the Afghan Pak region.