Police in Afghanistan's eastern Ghazni province have revealed that young Afghans are being taken illegally to Pakistan's south western Baluchistan province to study in religious seminaries or madrassas to learn the ways of the Taliban.
According to a New York Times (NYT) report, the objective this secret exercise is to enforce the same rigid interpretation of Islam practiced by the Taliban before returning them to their homeland to put into practice what they have learnt.
While the Afghan police are describing it as child trafficking, the parents of these "kidnapped" children reportedly want them to study in Pakistan and are willingly sending them to Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan province, widely considered the headquarters of the Taliban leadership council a.k.a. the "Quetta Shura."
The NYT report quotes an Afghan counter-terrorism official, as saying on condition of anonymity, that Afghan intelligence has identified 26 madrassas in Pakistan where they suspect future generations of Taliban are being trained, and in some cases, instructed in how to carry out suicide bombings. Several of the 26 madrassas he identified were in Quetta.
The Sheikh Abdul Hakim madrassa was among the Quetta schools the Afghan official identified as a Taliban recruitment center, but one of its teachers, Azizullah Mainkhail, when contacted, denied affiliation with the Taliban or Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
In the last month or so, Afghan police prevented about 40 children from being trafficked into Pakistan.
The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission claims that war, poverty, insecurity and a lack of understanding by families of the dangers awaiting their children, all combine to drive the child trafficking trade in Afghanistan.
Parents, it says, are often fooled into believing that their children will be educated or will get a good job, but they end up getting thrashed into submission, are forced to work as cheap labor and then taken by Taliban as new recruits.
The NYT quoted senior police official Fazlur Rahman Bustani, as saying that the movement of children is a business and a dangerous one.