mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
Pakistan’s Best & Brightest Fill Ranks of Terror Groups

Hundreds of thousands of trainees are active in the Pakistani terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba, according to a new report by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point. Many of those recruits are intelligent, secularly educated, driven young men, say the authors of the report, throwing cold water on the common assertion that most young men who join terror groups are poorly educated products of religious schools.

The Atlantic reports on the 56-page study: “[The young recruits] joined Lashkar…because they wanted more meaningful lives, admired its anticorruption image and felt an obligation to help fellow Muslims, the study says.”

“These are some of Pakistan’s best and brightest and they are not being used in the labor market, they are being deployed in the militant market,” Christine Fair, a Pakistan expert from Georgetown University and one of the report’s co-authors, told the Atlantic. “It’s a myth that poverty and madrasas create terrorism, and that we can buy our way out of it with U.S. aid.”

One of the report’s more interesting findings is that the Pakistani military is itself recruiting among the same groups of young people as terror organizations like Lashkar, blurring the lines between the two organizations. “Lashkar recruits aggressively in the districts of the Punjab region that produce the bulk of Pakistan’s officer corps,” reports the Atlantic. “[T]here’s a considerable degree of overlap,” echoes Fair. “The military and Lashkar are competing for guys with the same skill set.”

The West Point report is the best documentation yet (in open sources) of the degree to which Pakistan’s “deep state”, a power center utterly immune to anything civilian politicians say or do, is not only running the country but also running it into a dead end. A recent poll paints a sad picture: nearly 100 percent of young Pakistanis are pessimistic about their future and believe their country is heading in the wrong direction.

There is nothing but pain down this road, but the world’s most dysfunctional strategic culture—a military establishment with a record of war crimes mixed with humiliations and defeats stretching back for decades—is irreversibly committed to ruining itself and the country it controls.

Features Icon
show comments
  • Jim Luebke

    The scariest thing about this is it suggests that there isn’t just “competing” between the Pakistani military and terror groups, but deep and significant cooperative ties between the Pakistani military and these groups.

    Short of a very bloody war with India, I’m not sure how this sort of deep corruption might get rooted out.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service