Child Soldiers in Pakistan
Although the exact number of child soldiers in Pakistan remains to be known, the presence of more than 300 child soldiers within the North West Frontier Province alone is a clear indication of the rampancy of this issue. In the whole world, there are currently more than 300,000 child soldiers, an issue that has drawn the concern of international communities leading to the formulations of systems through which the issue can be resolved. The origin of child soldiering in Pakistan as a nation can be linked back to Islamist extremism.
Through influence in aspects such as Madrasas, religious factions and the Afghan war, Pakistan has seen the rise in child soldiering, with the assertion that the Afghan war has provided the greatest impetus for the growth of the vice (Firdous 112). The Jihadist groups have led to increased militancy, particularly close to the Afghan border where terrorism, planned attacks and suicide bombings are rampant. The origin of the militancy is linked to the Jihadists’ reactions towards the government’s refusal to support madrasa’s financially in favor of public institutions.
The increase in military action between the government and extremist militants can be linked to the increase in child soldiers since the militants are blamed for recruiting, training and deploying children to fight against government forces (IRIN Para. 1). Human rights activist groups have followed up on these claims and reported to the government, which has led to the action by government forces to recapture some of the child militants.
The rescued children reported to being sent on compulsory suicide missions against government entities. To further enhance the adversity of the situation, the militants took advantage of the poorest villages where they set up Madrasas to entice the poor to give up their children for religious training. In the process, children recruited to be child soldiers are mentally prepared with the claims that they are fighting for Islam in order to commit suicide bombings.
The militants use children because they are easier to control due to physical and emotional immaturity. In addition to this, factors such as insecurity, lack of basic needs and education all contribute to the gullibility of children (Khan 6). Internally displaced persons living in camps also made children to run to Madrasas for rescue due to the deplorable conditions in the camps.
The Pakistani government has put in place policies to prevent the recruitment of child soldiers. The government policies have well laid down stipulations regarding ages of potential military recruits. However, several cadet schools and colleges recruit students of at least 10 years of age but allow the children to make the choice on whether to join the army or not.
Some of the actions that have been developed against child soldiering include formulation of juvenile courts for the trial of children and the institution of the death penalty for children who are treated as adults after committing serious offences (UNCHR para. 1). The government is also against any form of militancy although there are some sections of military organizations such as Al-Qaida and Taliban that are still active in parts of Pakistan.
The issue of child soldiering can only be addressed effectively through the use of strategies such as identification of child soldiers and relocating them to non-military environments rather than locking them up in prison and addressing the problems of basic amenities and poor access to education. Pakistan being a signatory to various conventions that protect the rights of the child, it is possible to address this issue through international consultation.
Firdous, Kiran. “Militancy in Pakistan.” Institute of Strategic Studies, 2010. Web. Feb 26 2013. http://www.issi.org.pk/publication-files/1299825170_97247252.pdf
Khan, Muhammad Asif. “Protecting Child Soldiers through Realizing the Rights of Children.” Social Science Research Network, 2011. Web. Feb 26 2013. Pttp://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1909549
IRIN. “Pakistan: Child Soldiers in Swat Valley.” Humanitarian News and Analysis, 2008. Web. Feb 26 2013. http://irinnews.org/report/7800/PAKISTAN-Child-Soldiers-in-Swat-Valley
UNHCR. “Child Soldiers Global Report 2008.” The UN Refugee Agency, 2013. Web. Feb 26 2013. http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/country,,CSCOAL,,PAK,,486cb123c,0.html
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