Seeds of Peace Fellow, 2016


Creating a peace incubator for students in Pakistan.

How have you impacted your community?

I am a development practitioner with eight years of experience in the nonprofit sector. I earned my Master’s degree in economics and M. Phil in international development through an International Development Research Centre-funded fellowship in governance, security, and justice. I am also an Atlas Corps (USA) Think Tank LINKS (Learning, Innovation, and Knowledge Sharing) Fellow. I am one of the Global Young Researchers selected by the Restless Development agency (UK) in 2015 and have previously worked as leading researcher for the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (Pakistan), the Atlantic Council (USA), and the Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (Pakistan). I currently lead the Accountability Lab’s Pakistan chapter.

My GATHER Fellowship project is a peace incubator at a public university in the South Punjab, one of the most neglected and conflict-prone regions of Pakistan. Over the course of the Fellowship, I engaged over 200 students and faculty members at the university to be trained on innovation, ideas inception and implementation, project design, impact evaluation and networking for low-cost, simple and sustainable peace promotion and conflict mitigation ideas. I have helped collect impactful peace initiatives from around the world to inspire the students to develop their own projects. They can also develop altogether new peace ideas to work on. Around these ideas, students are free to take either individual or collective peace-actions. In doing so, the incubator provides them with the technical assistance, training, mentorship, networks, and seed-funding to test and scale up the most effective ideas.

At the completion of this pilot phase of intervention, we carried out a brief impact survey which suggested that almost 95 percent of the directly engaged students are now more tolerant towards religious and sectoral minorities, they are not judgmental about them, and would like to keep frequent interactions with them, around 100 percent said that they detest violence and to them violence has no justification in the collective societal and individual lives whatsoever.

“Working together with the GATHER Fellows and staff, I was able to improve the presentation of my idea and make it more relevant to the situation on the ground in South Punjab. The improvement in the presentation of the idea was one of the prime reasons why we were able to raise more funds for next round of the intervention.”