Thousands of Afghan orphans grew up never knowing Afghanistan or their parents, especially their mothers. They were schooled in Pakistan’s madrassas, religious schools which, in this case, were encouraged and financed by Pakistani and Saudi authorities to develop militantly inclined Islamists. Pakistan nurtured that corps of militants as proxy fighters in Pakistan’s ongoing conflict with over Muslim-dominated (and disputed) Kashmir. But Pakistan consciously intended to use the madrassas’ militants as leverage in its attempt to control Afghanistan as well.
As Jeri Laber of Human Rights Watch wrote in the New York Review of Books of the origins of the Taliban in refugee camps (recalling an article he’d written in 1986),
Hundreds of thousands of youths, who knew nothing of life but the bombings that destroyed their homes and drove them to seek refuge over the border, were being raised to hate and to fight, “in the spirit of Jihad,” a “holy war” that would restore Afghanistan to its people. “New kinds of Afghans are being born in the struggle,” I reported. “Caught in the midst of a grownups’ war, the young Afghans are under intense political pressure from one side or another, almost from birth." [...] The children that I interviewed and wrote about in 1986 are now young adults. Many are now with the Taliban.