Islamabad, July 29 : A remote mountaineous region in Pakistan that has almost turned into a dry riverbed, houses a terrorists training camp where about two dozen young men, most of them being in their teens, receive rigourous training for the war against NATO troops in neighbouring Afghanistan, said a report in the Wall Street Journal.
The camp is located just a few miles away from Peshawar. To reach here, one requires an armed escort on a 20-minute walk from a village along a muddy track. It is under the control of Haji Namdar, a top Taliban commander based in the Khyber Agency.
According to the paper, for these terrorist-trainees the day starts at 4 am with prayers, followed by a six-mile run along the riverbed, swimming, and weapons training.
"One has to go through this rigour to prepare for the tough life as a fighter," the report quoted a 27-year-old identified as Omar Abdullah, as saying. He said that he had fought alongside the Taliban against the US-led troops in Afghanistan before returning home to Pakistan a few weeks ago to organize training for the new recruits.
The report quoted one young man saying he was a student at a business school in Peshawar and recently completed his 40 days of fighter training. He said he was waiting to join the war in Afghanistan. "There is a long queue, but I hope my turn would come soon," he said.
The existence of camps like these is a major reason why the US-led war in Afghanistan, just across the border, is foundering. Pakistan's military is struggling to locate the camps and eradicate them, in part because many locals are sympathetic to the militants, said the report.
The WSJ report claimed that this particular camp had no formal or permanent structure. The boys live in a nearby village. "The villagers look after us," said Abdullah.
Western diplomats and Pakistani security officials say that hundreds of volunteers trained in these camps were now involved in fighting in Afghanistan. "It's not possible to seal the entire 1500-mile-long border running along treacherous mountainous terrain," said a senior military officer.
The number of such camps has increased in the past year as the Pakistan government has taken a more conciliatory approach to the militants in the hope of securing peace.
Many of the trainees in such camps came from Islamic seminaries, or madrassas, which have sprouted across Pakistan over the past three decades. Others come from secular educational institutions. All of them speak Pashto and come from the surrounding area. The volunteers go through intense scrutiny before they are enlisted and usually arrive with recommendations from clerics. "We don't accept everyone. Only those with solid credentials are enlisted for training," the report quoted Abdullah as saying.