ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: Poverty, a culture of weapons and reliance on schools that teach little but religion have fostered a growing wave of child militants, particularly in Pakistan's troubled tribal areas, experts said Thursday.Exit question: Is it islamophobic to assume terrorism has anything to do with islam? Or is islamphobia itself terrorism?
"Islamic militancy, in and of itself, is the major problem," said Attiya Inayatullah, a board member of the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child. "Any use or exploitation of a child is unacceptable. We need to have a strong movement that says 'no.'"
Pro-Taliban militants have asserted growing control over Pakistan's impoverished northwest in recent years, challenging the authority of the state. As well as trying to impose an extreme brand of Islam, they have also recruited youths as fighters, reportedly offering payments to their parents.
The issue recently came under scrutiny after a militant video emerged of a 16-year-old youth beheading a soldier in lawless South Waziristan and images of preteens brandishing weapons. But it is not confined to religious extremist groups and has been fermenting for decades in remote areas where tribes wage war over grudges new and old.
Part of the problem is the drastic shortage of quality education, several experts said. The gap is being filled by religious schools known as madrassas that often focus only on Islamic teachings with no modern subjects and TV-watching banned as a sin. Funded by charities or rich donors, some madrassas have been acccused of promoting extremism. Many students live there because their parents can't afford to raise them.
A video available in some markets shows young boys chanting Islamic slogans at a madrassa as they tote rifles that are nearly bigger than they are and engage in martials arts training.
I'm thinkin'... Aren't the West funding some of those madrassas?
So many questions and so little time!
Most peaceful country gives cash to terrorists.