Friday, February 16, 2007

Resentment Toward Taliban Recruiters

This article is a little dated but it describes an issue of great importance for the future of Afghanistan and Pakistan. The whole project of recruiting fighters and suicide bombers requires a careful look. For the social scientist this process is especially interesting because it entails the attempt of folks with an agenda to enlist others in their cause who will be asked to take serious personal risks and even, possibly, make the extreme sacrifice. So the process crucially depends on the conscious deployment of moral and idealistic terms to justify such commitment: here is ideology in as pure a form as it gets. In this case the particular moral terms for an imagined community of profound significance are Islamic; in our society they are likewise "religious" ideals but, to retain the appearance of a secular society, we phrase our appeals in terms of patriotism. Men and women are asked to die for the country. That a different appeal works in Pakistan -- the particular way the appeal is phrased there, that is, for Islam -- reveals how deeply salient such ideals are among young men in search of a cause to work for, even to die for.

Taliban recruiters look to Pakistan
The Associated Press

" ...the recruiters ... have turned to this cluster of about 25 ethnic Pashtun villages in search of volunteers."
"People here are religious, and recruiters play on that sentiment..."
"...a local office of Harkat-ul-Mujahedeen, an outlawed Pakistani militant group ... had circulated jihadist literature and CDs and recruited mostly jobless young men to go to Afghanistan -- like their fathers who fought the Soviet occupation of that country two decades ago. "
"...over the past year there have been increasing reports of funerals in Pakistani border villages of militants killed in fighting in Afghanistan, then repatriated for burial..."
"According to Shabqadar residents [in Pakistan], dozens of fighters came to offer prayers for Bahar Ali, 25, an unemployed man who had vanished seven months before mounting a suicide bombing in southern Afghanistan in mid-October. 'Most of the people of the village feel honored with the act of Bahar Ali as one of bravery and a service to Islam,' said neighbor Arshad Khan. 'Others are worried about the future of their young and jobless sons.' "

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