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Afghanistan: Forced recruitment practices of the Taliban, including whether forced recruits belong to a particular ethnic group, are married, are professional, the penalties for evading "service", and whether one can pay money to avoid combat (January-November 1999)

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 12 November 1999
Citation / Document Symbol AFG33171.E
Reference 2
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Afghanistan: Forced recruitment practices of the Taliban, including whether forced recruits belong to a particular ethnic group, are married, are professional, the penalties for evading "service", and whether one can pay money to avoid combat (January-November 1999), 12 November 1999, AFG33171.E, available at: [accessed 1 June 2016]
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No information on the forced recruitment practices of the Taliban could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

The following information may be of interest, however.

According to documentary sources, many recruits to the Taliban come from Pakistan's religious schools (Current History Feb. 1999, 85; The Middle East Feb. 1999, 17, 18; Xinhua 21 Aug. 1999; The Lancet 28 Aug. 1999; Jane's Intelligence Review Oct. 1999). In an October 1999 Jane's Intelligence Review article, analyst Anthony Davis, based in Bangkok and recently returned from Pakistan, stated that "Western intelligence sources estimate a force of up to 8,000 Pakistani volunteers are serving in Taliban ranks [numbering approximately 50,000 country-wide], mainly in combat roles but also in rear-echelon and administrative functions."

In an August 1999 news briefing in Islamabad, Louis-Georges Arsenault, UNICEF representative for Afghanistan, "voiced concern over the growing recruitment of students from Islamic schools in Pakistan into the ranks of the Taliban militia" (Xinhua 21 Aug. 1999). Reportedly many of these students were under the age of 18 (ibid.). Mullah Amir Muttaqi, the Taliban senior official responsible for information, denied the accusations (ibid.).

The Lancet reported in late August 1999 that a Taliban delegation had just visited Pakistan to recruit approximately 2500 Afghan and Pakistani youths from Pakistan's NWFP madrasas (28 Aug. 1999). The Pakistani media reported that over 5,000 students, the majority of whom were Afghans, had left Pakistan to join the Taliban ranks (ibid.). The Taliban denied these reports (ibid.). According to Anthony Davis, Pakistani press reports and accounts from Pakistani POWs indicate that the majority of religious "volunteers" are "openly recruited in Pakistan and bussed across border crossing points at Torkham and Chaman–waved through by Pakistani border guards in broad daylight" (Jane's Intelligence Review Oct. 1999).

In a February 1999 article in The Middle East, Roddy Scott wrote the following

…there seems to be no shortage of recruits–mainly from Pakistan–flooding to Taliban ranks. Heavy recruiting of Pakistani nationals in the madrasas–religious schools–around the country has kept up a steady supply of manpower, probably comprising at least 10 per cent of the overall Taliban strength. In addition, the return of Afghan refugees has also helped to ensure that manpower is the least of the Taliban's problems (18).

In a February 1999 Current History article entitled "Afghanistan Under the Taliban," Barnett R. Rubin, noted scholar on Afghanistan and Director of the Centre for Preventive Action at the Council on Foreign Relations, stated that:

…the Taliban derive much of their religious inspiration from the Deobandi movement in Pakistan. Virtually all the Taliban leaders had been refugees in Pakistan for several years and studied in madrasas there affiliated with one branch or another of the Deobandi political party Jamiat ul-Ulema-I Islam (JUI). The main branch of the JUI is run by Maulvi Fazlur Rahman, who served as chairman of the Foreign Affairs Commission in Benazir Bhutto's government. An important offshoot of the JUI that is led by Maulana Samiul Haq runs two large madrasas, the Dar ul-Uloom Haqqania in Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province and the Jamia Uloom-ul-Islamiya in Karachi. The various Taliban leaders using the name "Haqqani" are not related to each other; they are graduates of Dar ul-Uloom Haqqania.

These links remain important and provide new recruits (both Afghans and Pakistanis) to the Taliban. … These same madrasas provided the Taliban with thousands of new Afghan and Pakistani recruits after the final takeover of Mazar-I-Sharif in August 1998 (85).

Anthony Davis corroborates the religious affiliation of Pakistani recruits to the JUI and its madrasas (Jane's Intelligence Review Oct. 1999).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

Current History [Philadelphia]. February 1999. Barnett R. Rubin. "Afghanistan Under the Taliban."

Jane's Intelligence Review [Surrey]. October 1999. Anthony Davis. "Pakistan's 'War by Proxy' in Afghanistan Loses its Deniability." (NEXIS)

The Lancet []. 28 August 1999. Khabir Ahmad. "UN Condemns Taliban's Continued Human Rights Abuse in Afghanistan." (NEXIS)

The Middle East [London]. February 1999. No. 287. Roddy Scott. "The Final Push?"

Xinhua. 21 August 1999. "Afghan Taliban Deny Children Involvement in War." (NEXIS)

Additional Sources Consulted

Amnesty International. November 1999. Afghanistan: Children Devastated by War: Afghanistan's Lost Generations.

_____. November 1999. Afghanistan: Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

_____. November 1999. Afghanistan: the Human Rights of Minorities.

_____. November 1999. Afghanistan: Refugees From Afghanistan: the World's Largest Single Refugee Group.

Amnesty International Report 1999. 1999.

Arabies [Paris]. Monthly. January 1999-September 1999.

Asian Survey [Berkeley, Calif.]. Bi-monthly. January/February 1999-May-June 1999.

Current History [Philadelphia]. Monthly. January 1999-October 1999.

L'Express International [Paris]. Weekly. 17 June 1999-3 November 1999.

Jane's Intelligence Review [Surrey]. Monthly. January 1999-October 1999.

The Middle East [London]. Monthly. January 1999-September 1999.

Middle East International [London]. Fortnightly. 15 January 1999-29 October 1999.

Resource Centre. "Afghanistan" country file. January 1999-November 1999.

_____. "Afghanistan: Amnesty International" country file. January 1999-November 1999.

Electronic sources: various Internet sites, IRB Databases, NEXIS

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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