Pushing children into combat situations is inhumane 


UNSG’s Children and Armed Conflict report said that Pakistan-based banned terror outfits Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM)and Hizbul Mujahideen recruit and use children in Jammu and Kashmir against Indian security forces. Camps of Pakistan-backed militant groups have mushroomed across the Line of Control in Pok. The same was brought to light last year by India in a report that revealed the presence of 55 active terror camps in Pakistan-occupied  Kashmir.

The UNSG report says that in the last two years, over 1,000 children were killed or maimed and more than 8,000 were recruited or used as combatants by terror groups based in Pakistan. The report also suggests that children have been used in hostilities by both state armed forces and non-state armed groups. The use of children as informants, spies, suicide bombers & stone pelters by the Pakistani security forces was also rampant. A grave HR violation which needs immediate attention, as it endangers lives of young children who are radicalized and thrown into a hostile environment.

Pakistan’s report card on child soldiers

In Pakistan, UN continues to receive reports of the recruitment and use of children, including from madrassas, also, the alleged use of children by armed groups for suicide attacks. As per a noted Pakistani journalist Zahid Hussain, a disturbing number of suicide bombers are between 12 and 18 years old, about 90 percent. In January, a video showing children, including girls, being instructed on how to perpetrate suicide attacks was released in Pakistan.
Child Soldiers International conducted research has found evidence of ongoing child recruitment. While much of the recruitment is coercive, voluntary recruitment also takes place. While authorities deny such practices, confidential interviews conducted by Child Soldiers International reveal that an unofficial but customary rule of a “one-recruit-per-family” quota is also in play in parts of Pakistan.

Children from minority groups in Pakistan join militancy as they look at it as the easiest way to fight oppression.

A study by Brookings in Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS), an Islamabad-based research think tank, had earlier reported that cultural and religious radicalization is common amongst those children who face economic and social-based grievances. Further findings of their study suggested that there was a widespread perception among the Pakistani youth that democracy will not help Pakistan deal with its problems. The study also found that there was extensive frustration among them over the current state of affairs in the country, which they feel needs to be changed. They seem confused on issues related to radicalization, extremism, and terrorism, as a few recent studies suggest.

The situation in 2008, based on responses from Swat & Malakand, hinted that the increasing cases of radicalization among young people in Pakistan are due to multiple factors. A report by the British High Commission highlighted the dissatisfaction and frustration of youth over the lack of systems in the country. The findings of these studies indicate that the average Pakistani takes his religion seriously. He is caught between the narrative which is primarily grounded in religion and is championed by militant groups. It makes him want to see his religion triumph and so the voluntary submission to touts.

Social & religious variables influence young minds

Among the social and religious variables that influence young individuals is the resistance to ethnic and religious diversity. In the prevailing situation the rise in atrocities over minorities – in other words, “ethnic cleansing” of Balochs, Pakhtuns, Mohajirs, Ahmediyas, Uyghurs, Sindhi’s, Sikh etc in Pakistan has left the young children scarred and this eventually pushes them into unlawful and terrorist activities.

Indoctrination by clerics in Madrassas

On the other hand, there is religious radicalization carried out at all madrassas where these young boys succumb to the wrong teachings of hardline Muslim clerics who are part of a bigger nexus. They then receive military training and are used as non-state actors for all hostile activities across the borders. Young boys are persuaded by the promise of Paradise. Children are shown brightly colored paintings meant to depict the heavenly delights that await them, including rivers of milk and honey and female virgins.

Child recruitment pipeline enjoys support which needs to be exposed

Child terrorism does not happen by choice of the children themselves. There is a requirement to undercut the institutions that assist terrorist groups in mobilization and recruitment. Measures include enlisting religious leaders to speak out against the use of children; building up state school systems as an alternative to the private religious schools of hate to which poor parents are often forced to send their children; shutting down payment plans that reward suicide attackers and their kin; and holding not only leaders but also families responsible for their children’s actions in order to create accountability beyond the child. 

29 Jun 2018/Friday.                                                        Written by Afsana