The phenomenon of “child soldiers” is not new to this globe. From the far western shores of Americas, to Africa and Asia, the world continues to witness the rise of soldiers that are mere children. The world is stunned beyond limits to see that humanity has fallen to this level in the exploitation of young innocent children as child recruits for fundamentalist agendas.
The use of child soldiers has spread to almost all the global armed conflict. Though an exact number is impossible to define, thousands of child soldiers are illegally serving in armed conflict around the world.According to Do Something Org, many countries are allegedly reported on use of under-age soldiers, these include Afghanistan, Colombia, India, Iraq, Israel, Libya, Mali, Pakistan, Thailand, Sudan, Syria, Yemen, and more. I am sure many are already geared up with the anti-Pakistani stereotypes that believe that whole of Pakistan is a terrorist country and on this list, I get this hatred towards Pakistan is a global trend but not many of you know the dynamics of child militia here. And am taking this opportunity to shed some light on various important areas.
Pakistan|Trending Local Child Soldiers issue
The growing phenomenon of child militants in Pakistan is a horrific reality, one mirrored in various conflicts throughout history. Young innocent children are targeted because they can be easily brain washed by militant groups.
The cycle of poverty, large family size and economic hardships are factors that leave vulnerable parents little choice but to send children in local madrassas as they are free of cost. The constitution Article 25-A says the State shall provide free and compulsory education to children between ages of 5 to 16. However that’s not being followed as millions of children are out of school and our literary rate is appalling low at 48%.
Most people have no choice but to send their children to religious schools or madrassas as. Moreover, there are huge discrepancies because education in Pakistan is heavily influenced by religion and in recent times Wahabi agendas.
The main source of funding for these madrasa groups is coming from Saudi Arabia. In fact, this whole phenomenon that we are confronting, which Al Qaeda is a part of, is very closely associated with Saudi Arabia’s financial and religious projects for the Muslim world. It’s in greater interests to keep Pakistani children stuck into poverty cycles as they serve a greater agenda, shame on Pakistani government for colluding against its own.
Local madrassas cater Pakistani children as well as international students who avail the lucrative scholarship fundings from Persian Gulf and Saudi Arabia.
However coming back to Pakistan, the different militant groups including TTP, LeT and so on have been able to harness the young Pakistani children in scores through enticing tactics.
Local Militant Recruitment Mechanism
The militant have sinister agendas however on the forefront they are able to cajole and manipulate young children by reminding them the sufferings of the Muslim world and that they have to play a role in eradication of misery; through this jihad.
Upon meeting some under-age boy militants in Swat, I found out that for years they have attended the madrassas whose lecturers and mentors taught them things like ” The Pakistan Army is the ally of the Western capitalist world; they the imperialists are all the enemies of Islam. The fight against them is justified; they are apostates, the friends of the infidels.”
The second message drummed into them is one which the world is facing today. The increasing intolerance towards Muslims and followers of faith Islam within their own regions and in the western world. Sadly this is capitalized upon very well by the militant groups. The young recruits are taught that they have to stand up against the helplessness of Muslim women, daughters and sisters that are getting dishonoured by non-Muslims in Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine etc.
They also watch videos purportedly showing the killing of Muslims by non-Muslims in Afghanistan and the Middle East. Instructors tell them that a war is being waged against Islam.
That the western world is at war with Islam has given a trump card to Pakistan’s militants for this sort of radical enticement of vulnerable children.
These main themes in lectures are taught to in both the senior recruits camps (ages 16 and older) and junior ones (ages 7 to 15), all are centered on vengeance and the need to do something for the wronged Muslims.The children are completely isolated from the normal outside world.
The young would-be suicide bombers are also persuaded by the promise of Paradise. This is, I repeat a huge blasphemy against the real teachings for if have to view from Islamic point of view; suicide is strictly forbidden along with the killing of innocent persons. Allah, God is the author of life that has granted us the gift of life and we mere humans don’t have the authority to take it.
This using of innocent children by militancy has to stop now. But. The inability of the Pakistan army to meet internal security challenges effectively is a particularly worrying factor. Three generations of Pakistani children are suffering due to the impact of this futile jihadi indoctrination.
It is time to seriously put an end to this madness, before it consumes us within the dark abysses of hatred and destruction.I am so exhausted to waking up in the mornings with the first thought in mind:
What the hell happened Pakistan?
And then trying to fix it some how in my way.
Though, we can’t bring back the already dead Pakistani children militants and can hardly ease the misery of the grieving parents, it is time for Pakistan to asses the complex root causes behind this phenomenon and design solutions for protection of children from becoming part of militancy.