In this lecture Amir Rana, Director of the Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies, will address the relationship between Islamic charities and humanitarian work in Pakistan, examine the links to militancy and discuss the potential role of religious actors in peace building. Islamic charities are taking an active part in humanitarian relief work, seen after the 2005 earthquake and the 2010 floods in Pakistan. Islamic charities in Pakistan are organizations with diverse profiles ranging from organizations established by non-violent religious parties to organizations operated by militant groups. Militant groups first started charities to provide cover to their banned outfits, to continue their operations and to win people's ideological and financial support. Later, some of these organizations have engaged in actual relief activities. An increasing sense of deprivation and anger over the state’s failure to respond effectively to natural disasters among the people of Pakistan has provided the militants with an opportunity to increase their appeal to the masses. The scale of their relief work is not as extensive as projected in some media reports. Even if one relies on these groups’ own claims, their relief operations are very small in comparison with those handled by the government and local and international relief organizations.

Speaker: Amir Rana, Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies Comments: Shoaib Sultan (Advisor on extremism, The Norwegian Centre Against Racism) and David Hansen (Director Pakistan Programme, Centre for International and Strategic Analysis, SISA) Seminar chair: Kaja Borchgrevink, researcher, PRIO