Warriors in the Mountains: Cultivating Coalitions with the People of North Waziristan
The PCR Project hosted a special briefing on coalition building in North Waziristan with Melissa Payson. She discussed the difficulties of carrying out aid interventions in complex environments. Payson provided local perspectives and ways to move forward in this enigmatic locale that has come to epitomize the “epicenter of violent extremism.”
Melissa Payson is an international development consultant with over 15 years’ experience designing, directing, and executing humanitarian programming in South Asia and the Balkans. She has experience with a broad portfolio of sub-national governance, community-driven development, and disaster relief initiatives for the UN, NGOs, and private aid contractors, with particular focus on isolated, underserved, and non-permissive areas. This has involved collaborating with a wide variety of tribal, religious, ex-combatant, and other civil society groups in diverse Islamic contexts at provincial, district, municipal, and community levels in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kosovo, and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Ms. Payson’s recent experience includes working with indigenous institutions and local populations on both sides of the Durand Line. She led a study probing North Waziristan leadership stances on development and foreign assistance in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Area and provided community mobilization training for US-funded organizations working in the region. In addition, she contributed to alternative dispute resolution programming in the North West Frontier Province and Balochistan as well as earthquake recovery efforts in Pakistan-administered Kashmir. In Afghanistan, Ms. Payson facilitated the National Solidarity Program, the government’s flagship rural development initiative, in Khost and Logar provinces in the southeast region. She recently completed a visiting fellowship at the Institute of Development Studies in the UK. She received her B.A. from Dartmouth College.