Swat, Pakistan (CNN) -- Just over one week ago, Pakistani authorities paraded 11 children accused of terrorism in front of the local media. The boys, aged 10 to 16, were apprehended while attempting to plant home-made explosives on behalf of local militant groups operating in and around the city of Quetta, in Balochistan.
The boys' arrest highlights Pakistan's worsening civil strife and underscores how Pakistani terrorist groups continue to exploit children.
This is not a recent phenomenon. In fact, terrorist groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan are increasingly turning to children as operatives.
Most of the children recalled overwhelmingly negative experiences at the training camps. After performing menial tasks, they were locked in a 4x5 meter room for the rest of the day. Some reported being repeatedly beaten, and in a few cases, sexually assaulted by senior figures.
One child with whom we spent some time graduated from such deplorable conditions only to be 'allowed' to become a martyr, changing his mind literally at the last second. That boy is now one of Sabaoon's brightest hopes for successful rehabilitation and reintegration, and a potential role model for younger children at Sabaoon. But he remains profoundly traumatized by his experiences.
Other children actually reported having had positive experiences with the TTP. Some became involved through family members already in the movement. For them, adventure, camaraderie, and a sense of purpose proved all too real. Terrorism was the family business, and even if the children didn't want to get involved, how could they refuse?
Nobody knows exactly how old some of the children are. Many don't have birth certificates and don't know their own age themselves.
So, how the hell did all of this come about? "Terrorism" doesn't just happen, it is actively instigated and acted out. Most terrorists are trying to impose their idea of the "right way" to live on a bunch of people who believe something different (the wrong stuff obviously). Now, the terrorists can see quite clearly that their actions only cause more resistance, as opposed to the acceptance and conversion they are apparently trying to achieve. Any person can see that coercion and force will not lead to happy, functional or docile people.
Unfortunately, there is no such thing as objective reasoning or critical thinking when it comes to beliefs and opinions, people will fight tooth and nail for what they believe is right - even if it is very wrong.
Just think, 2000 years ago the Romans lived in a way that is very different to how we live now. They believed their way of life was the best - and that involved gods raping goats and having penises on pretty much everything (signs, jewellery for children, decorations, statues...) - check out this article on the lives of Romans in Pompeii just before they got pwned by the mountain of doom.
It's always about beliefs and opinions, whose is better, whose is right. Obviously every aspect of our beliefs and opinions are created in our imaginations - but that doesn't make them any less valid! Or stupid.
Our world is made up of segregated sects of opinions, all vying for the supremacy of validation and capitulance. No one sect is ever willing to give up what they believe, and so the conflicts continue.
The simplest answer is almost always the correct one: Just STOP.