When representatives of the PACE-PD project tried to help the village form Community Organisations, they immediately recognized that in order to help the villagers develop, they would first need to break the ice between the two tribes.
They were able to persuade the women of the Baloch tribe to participate in a joint recreational activity. However, the women of the Khawaja tribe were adamant that they would not participate in an event with their rivals.
So the PACE team asked the local head teacher to play the role of mediator and together they met up with the heads of both tribes: Mr. Malik Sona from Khawaja Tribe and Mr. Sana Ullah from the Baloch tribe. Initiating the dialogue, the head teacher pointed out that the village could only benefit from the development programme if the people were united.
Both tribes recognised the importance of addressing common problems, such as irrigation channels, access to pastures, and forestation rights.
Nonetheless, it took some time to persuade the two tribes that the proposed recreational event – a baking contest, a debate, and some play activities for the younger girls – would favour no one side over the other. Slowly but surely, each argument was successfully countered, right up to discussing the venue. Recognising the need to find a neutral territory, the school teacher proposed to let it happen in his school.
Eventually the two community leaders agreed to let their women and young girls participate in the activity, which was a success and greatly enjoyed by all.
At a follow up visit to the village just a couple of months later, the PACE team was very happy to note a greater level of interaction between the two tribes at festivals, and even a greater willingness to trade with each other.
One of the women even commented that she wished they had compromised earlier. Both have now established Community Organisations and will soon appoint representatives to form a common Village Development Organisation which will identify their development priorities.
PACE-PD is an EU-funded project which is designed to promote an inclusive and empowered society in four very poor Union Councils in Punjab province.
EUR 800,000 (90% of total)
21,220 rural households in four of the poorest UCs in Punjab province, Pakistan
Mr. Saleem Azad, school teacher/mediator between tribes