PESHAWAR -- A number of militants arrested in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) over the past year are highly educated, according to arrest records showing the education levels and ages of suspects.
Of the 473 militants arrested, at least 24 hold graduate or post-graduate degrees, while 34 passed their intermediate examinations (two years of university), KP Police sources disclosed to Pakistan Forward.
The majority of arrested militants, however, attended only primary school or are illiterate, the data show.
"As many as 13, or 2.75%, of the militants arrested during 2017 had obtained post-graduate degrees, while 11 individuals (2.33%) had graduated [with a bachelor's degree]," a source from the Central Police Office in Peshawar told Pakistan Forward, citing a police report.
Thirty-four of the arrested militants (7.19%) passed their intermediate examinations and 57 militants (12.05%) graduated from high school, the source said.
"A total of 36 held militants (7.61%) had done their middle school, 45 or 9.51% completed primary education, while 58 militants (12.26%) had attained classes below primary level," the report said.
In addition, 51 militants (10.78%) graduated from religious seminaries.
Eighty-eight of the arrested militants (18.60%) are illiterate, while the schooling of about 80 rounded up militants (16.91%) is not known, assuming they too are not literate, according to the report.
A large majority of the arrested militants, 189, were between the ages of 20 and 30, since youth of this age can be easily targeted by the recruiters, the source said.
Educated youth play specific roles in militancy
"There are educated people who were arrested for involvement in militancy," KP Inspector General of Police Salahuddin Khan Mehsud told Pakistan Forward, confirming that those educated were from both religious seminaries and formal schools and colleges.
"As per the record at the Central Police Office, those militants arrested during the last year included 33 persons between the ages of 14 and 19, 98 between 20 and 25, while 91 were between the age of 26 and 30," said one source, citing police records. Several others arrested were over the age of 60.
On a number of occasions, local police and officers from the Counter Terrorism Department arrested educated youth who had been distributing literature related to militancy and terrorism.
"Apart from ideology, one of the reasons the educated lot are joining [the militants'] ranks is that they were attracted by other educated people through their speeches and the way they talked about militancy," Zahidullah Khan, a KP Police spokesman, told Pakistan Forward.
Salman Yousafzai, a journalist from Peshawar who has been covering the violence in KP for many years, says educated militants have stayed away from battlefields and attacks.
"The educated militants were not actively involved in attacks, but they focused on other activities for these groups like running social media accounts, publishing literature, etc.," Yousafzai told Pakistan Forward.