Pakistan using social media to recruit gullible Kashmiri youth for terrorism


by Farooq Ganderbali
Staring at imminent defeat in its proxy war against India, Pakistan is now using the social media to recruit the gullible Kashmiri youth for terrorism in the strife-torn Kashmir. A relentless campaign has been started by Pakistan to lure the youth to join terrorism. Fresh videos of terrorists have flooded Facebook and other social networking sites to romanticize terrorism and lure gullible youth to join their ranks beside outwit the security forces and garner public support.
Social media and the internet help amplify religious exploitation, driving young men in Kashmir to violence. Most of them are school, college dropouts. Youngsters in the valley are also influenced by global radical ideologies like the ISIS. Kashmir could end up as another Syria if corrective steps aren’t taken quickly. In youthful age, jingoism attracts youth everywhere and young boys in Kashmir are no different from rest of the world. They get attracted to jingoism and it takes them towards wrong path
Religious exploitation is another card which Pakistan is playing to push Kashmiri youths toward the militancy. Police and security agencies are closely watching the activities of religious seminaries. Around 250 madrasas are imparting religious education to thousands of children. Much of the radicalisation has been happening through social media and was posing a major challenge.
The Wahabi preachers are misleading, inspiring and encouraging youth of Kashmir. Majority of the youths who joined terrorist groups in Kashmir were associated with Jamaat-e-Islami, J&K through educational institutions or religious activities. Earlier foreign terrorists killed were more in number but the trend has reversed in the past three years. More locals have joined militant ranks and more are getting killed. Jamaat has been using its network of schools to further promote anti-India feeling among the children in the Valley.
Its leaders have been encouraging cadres of the Jamaat youth wing-Jamiat-ul-Tulba to be recruited into terrorist outfits. Hardliner leaders of the Jamaat continue to maintain regular contact with the Pakistan High Commission for support. Jamaat has been collecting funds in the name of religious activities and using the same for anti-national separatist activities. The Jamaat has several trusts for running schools to disseminate orthodox Islamic ideology. Behind this facade, hardliners within the Jamaat have been involved with militant groups. The group was actively supporting militancy during 1988-99 under the influence of ISI. It patronized Hizbul Mujahideen and in the initial years was the backbone of the HM.
After Burhan Wani’s encounter in 2016, WhatsApp groups were used to spread propaganda and mobilise youngsters to encounter sites to disrupt security operations. In many cases, security agencies found that many of these propaganda groups were traced to Pakistan. During the late 1980s, the Afghan ‘Jihad’ and the Iranian Revolution were the global events that served as “inspiration” for many militants Kashmir. But today it is the Taliban and the Islamic State.