By: The Kabul Times
The role of religious seminaries (madrassas) and mainstream schools in Pakistan in developing religious extremism and sympathy toward Taliban and militancy in Afghansitan has received little, if any, scholarly attention.
Taliban have time and again been blamed for smuggling of Afghan children to Pakistani madrassas for brainwashing and using them as child soldiers against Afghan forces. Afghans believe that Pakistani military establishment have eased such smuggling to the country, to help support Taliban ranks in war again Afghan government.
The Afghan authorities believe that children were being taken to Pakistani madrassas to educate a new generation in the ways of the Taliban, with the intention of returning them to Afghanistan to enforce the same rigid interpretation of Islam practiced by the radical religious movements.
In a recent move, the Peshawar High Court (PHC) on Friday directed authorities to give the custody of 10 Afghan children, who were smuggled by Taliban into Pakistan, to the Afghan consulate and ensure they are reunited with their parents.
The bench also told authorities to gather information about the children and submit it in the court, according to Pakistani media.
The case, which was heard by Pakistani PHC Chief Justice Waqar Ahmed Seth, was regarding 10 children who, according to Pakistani police, were brought to Pakistan illegally and were enrolled in a seminary in the Akora Khattak town in Nowshera.
The court was hearing an application filed by an Afghan refugee cardholder, who said that he had brought the children, who are his relatives, to Akora Khattak’s refugee camp. According to the applicant, the children had been taken away by a seminary and the administration had refused to let him see the kids.
Police told the court that the children had been brought to Pakistan illegally and had no valid documents. The applicant, too, could not explain how he brought the children to Pakistan after which the court ordered police to arrest him and investigate the matter thoroughly.
When asked why they were brought to Pakistan, the children — all of whom are aged 10 or under — said they were in the country to get religious education.
The bench was told that the children could not speak Pashto or Urdu and a translator was brought in the courtroom. The translator told the court that “it seemed as if the children have been brainwashed. They answer each question together.”
The chief justice asked authorities how the children were smuggled into the country without agencies being alerted. “Children were brought here from Afghanistan and no one knows about this. What are the agencies doing?” Justice Seth asked. He told police to investigate how and why the children were brought to Pakistan.
The court also told authorities to take the representatives of the seminary into custody and probe the matter further. The chief justice also ordered authorities to find out if there are more Afghan children enrolled in seminaries in Pakistan and whether they have valid documents.
The Afghan consulate’s office bearer Abdul Hameed Jalili, who was in court on Friday, told DawnNews TV of Pakistan that the children hailed from Afghanistan’s Badakhshan province. He said that the children had been sent to Akora Khattak by the Taliban illegally to be enrolled in a seminary for religious education.
This is for the first time that Pakistani court took steps against such smuggling that had raised concerns of Afghan government and people for the last three decades. Taliban’s main recruitment coming from operation of such madrassas that promoting extremism and misusing the true image of Islam for the vicious goals of militancy and terrorist activities.
The Pakistani government has been failed to monitor the activities of these seminaries in its territory, where children are being brainwashed to carry out suicide attacks in Afghanistan.
Quetta is significant to Afghanistan’s Taliban, many of whom graduated from madrassas there. It is also considered the headquarters of the Taliban leadership council, which is widely referred to as the “Quetta shura.”
The Afghan intelligence had earlier identified 26 madrassas in Pakistan where it suspects future generations of Taliban are being trained and, in some cases, instructed in carrying out suicide bombings. Several of the 26 madrassas he identified were in Quetta.
In 2018, the US has sanctioned a top Al Qaeda official and a madrassa in Peshawar, serving as a terrorist training center supporting Lashkar-e-Taeba, the Pakistan based terrorist group behind the Mumbai attack, and the Taliban.
Targeting Jamia Taleem-Ul-Quran-Wal-Hadith Madrassa, also known as the Ganj Madrassa, the US Treasury department had said the Peshawar based religious school “serves as a training center and facilitates funding for Al Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Taeba, and the Taliban.