As we all know, the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan is a terrorist organization that is responsible for thousands of deaths across the globe. The organization mainly recruits vulnerable groups who could be easily swayed into acting as suicide bombers as a part of their act of serving God. Among the many vulnerable groups, the organization recruits young children who are then trained and deployed for various military operations.
In 2012, Al Jazeera published an article titled "Pakistani Taliban's indoctrinated child bombers” which explores the tactics used by the organization to recruit and indoctrinate these children. Since then, there have been actions taken by various human rights foundations to protect these children. However, even now this problem persists as a huge problem near the Pakistan-Afghan border.
The primary reason behind this problem is recruitment drives carried out by the organization in poor and marginalized communities. These children do not have any idea about their rights as citizens of Pakistan but also are afraid to go and talk to the security forces for fear of them joining hands with the Taliban. Some of these children do not have anyone to provide for them and so are quite dependent on the organization to provide them with necessities such as food, water, and shelter. They are less likely to be suspected by security forces and are taught to be doing all of this so they could be ‘martyrs’ of Islam as they fight against tyranny. These children are conditioned to have an extremist ideology through religious indoctrination.
The use of young children as suicide bombers not only poses a serious human rights violation but also is a threat to the security in the region. But what has changed in the past decade despite knowing about this issue? Even if governments have established rehabilitation centers for former child soldiers to raise awareness of the issue, it continues to remain the same. The main question then is how can we make a difference?
To address this problem in Pakistan, it is very important to address the underlying causes of the problem. This includes addressing poverty and awareness in communities that are vulnerable to this organization. These groups not only need extra support when it comes to understanding their place as citizens of Pakistan but also need more security in public areas so they do not have to take any steps out of fear. More work needs to be done to identify and report potential suspicious behavior and leads in the area to stop the recruitment from scratch. Apart from awareness and support, they need to be provided with better educational facilities that are free of cost to give them better knowledge about right and wrong. Finally, the government needs to do more to rehabilitate former soldiers by giving them free education, vocational training, and psychological support.
With coordinated efforts from the government, civil society, and international community, Pakistan would be able to eliminate this problem for a better future.