Historically, women in Pakistan’s northwestern territories bordering Afghanistan have
played a critical role in providing money and men to jihadist organizations such as the
Taliban, Al-Qaeda, and “Islamic State in Iraq and Syria” (ISIS). Lack of education, too
little exposure and a male-dominated conservative milieu constitute some of the ingredients
of support for these outfits. This was true for over three decades and the phenomenon
remained restricted to the rural, backward northwestern regions. But since the early 1990s,
outfits such as the Al-Hudda Foundation – an exclusively women-focused organization – began
serving as the initial hooks for middle- and upper-class women whom the Foundation targets.
It brainwashes women into using hijab, and also into believing that they
need to forge an alliance against the West and work for an Islamic, Sharia-based state. This
advocacy turns many affluent women into religious radicals who can potentially work as the
first line of recruits for extremist outfits like Daesh/IS. However small their numbers,
these women represent a big threat to the global liberal values of society.