The revelation contained in a recent UN report on Afghanistan that “more than 80 per cent” of suicide bombers in Afghanistan are recruited and trained in Pakistan may well be perceived by many as an indictment of Islamabad’s failure to effectively tackle the menace of Taliban insurgents operating in Afghanistan from inside Pakistani territory as well as the issue of safe havens for militants in parts of the tribal areas. The report, based on interviews with attackers who failed to carry out their suicide missions, also said that most of them were poor, young and uneducated and that suicide attacks in that country for the first eight months of 2007 were up 69 per cent compared to the same period last year. This only tends to reinforce the view that the best way — of course it is more long term in nature — to prevent suicide attacks from happening, in or outside Pakistan, is to have in place policies that effectively reduce the incidence of poverty and at the same time seek to achieve universal literacy.

An individual who has to his credit some level of formal schooling has more chances of getting a job and earning a decent livelihood than one who has no such education. Furthermore, the kind of education being imparted in many of the country’s madressahs is so out of tune with the practical demands of the job market that enrolment in such institutions is not a good alternative to a mainstream school. Besides, many madressahs retain links with extremist/banned organisations and tend to provide the kind of environment and ‘teaching’ that allow easy indoctrination and recruitment of would-be suicide bombers. This means that madressah reform, since long a neglected matter in this country, needs to be taken up with some seriousness, so that the potential of these institutions to produce intolerant brainwashed automatons, who are more likely to go on to become suicide attackers, is diminished.

The UN report also correctly notes the role played by Afghan refugee camps and how networks operating inside Afghanistan use their links in the camps to win over young impressionable minds to their cause. Here too, there should be a mechanism that prevents access to the camp population inside Pakistan by members of extremist organisations. Unfortunately, grinding poverty and lack of education can provide an ideal breeding ground for individuals to be brainwashed into believing that the best course of action is one that guarantees them entrance into heaven and what better than to take part in an operation that allows that, while at the same time killing the infidels. One wonders what became of the millions of dollars in US aid as well as domestic funding by the Pakistan government for socio-economic development of FATA.

Source The News