Pakistani Comicbook Fights Violent Extremism, One Panel at a Time

15,000 copies of Paasban have been distributed to schools across Pakistan.

Image via the CFX Facebook page.

A Pakistani comic book studio based in Islamabad, CFX Comics, debuted a new series this week called Paasban, which aims to prevent teenagers from being drawn into the world of extemist violence and armed political organizations. The story, based on the life of one its creators, Gauher Aftab, follows a group of friends who are forced to cope with this issue directly when an extremist group attempts to court one of their friends. Aftab, along with his co-creators Mustafa Hasnain and Yahya Ehsan, are making the comic available in both English and Urdu, and distributed the first 15,000 copies to schools around Pakistan.

“When you consider that one of the most vulnerable targets of violent extremism are kids who don’t have access to education, we really had to try and make the art captivating and yet simple enough to explain the story to someone even if they can’t read the words,” Aftab told Hyperallergic.

Paasban calls to mind another cause-specific comic book from neighboring India, which stars a rape survivor as its titular character. CFX’s project has been in the works for about two years, but it hadn’t been able to galvanize support for the books until after the Peshawar school attacks in December, which killed 150 people. It plans to launch Android and iOS apps for the series in August.