Teens sit in a police van after they escaped Taliban militants in Bannu June 1, 2009. The militants are accused not only of recruiting youngsters to commit suicide bombings but also of sexually exploiting them. Pakistan : Islamic Taliban sexually abusing young boys ISLAMABAD â€“ Taliban exploitation of young boys for sex is common in parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan, Central Asia Online has learnt through interviews with analysts, military officers, clerics and a former militant. "I have personally done investigative reporting when they were allegedly taking away young boys from schools for sexual pleasure," Peshawar-based analyst and author Aqeel Yusufzai told Central Asia Online in early August. "I've confirmed reports of militants â€“ both in Pakistan and Afghanistan â€“ exploiting young boys." The militants routinely visit schools in border towns to "select good-looking teenaged boys" in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), Aqeel said. The district education officer reported the matter to the provincial government, then run by the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) (2002-2007), but the problem apparently continued. A secret perpetuated by fear A former militant commander-turned-fruit seller in Pakistan confirmed the abuse but told Central Asia Online that the majority of cases go unreported because of "cultural taboos.""Due to social fear, [the victim] keeps it secret â€¦ because in our society, the victim boy is always accused of the act," said the former commander, who identified himself only as Mohmand. "It doesn't matter whether he is forced or if he consented. â€¦ Once used, he is then vulnerable to blackmailing and exploitation by others â€“ including commanders or colleagues â€“ for their pleasure." Some of the abusing commanders would often "proudly share" the act and encourage their peers and colleagues also to "use" the victim, he said.Senior leadership inside the Taliban has done "nothing" to stop the abuse, he added, saying that "they [senior commanders] understand militants are living a tough life away from families and homes." If reported, "the issue is resolved by just reprimanding the perpetrators." No place for sexual abuse in Islam The practice is yet more evidence that the militants say one thing and do another. They hold others to strict moral standards, but they themselves do things that violate basic tenets, religious scholars said."There is no bigger crime than sexually abusing a child of Islam," Maulana (Mullah) Abdul Akbar Chitrali, director of the Markaz-e-Islami seminary in Peshawar, told Central Asia Online.Allah will never forgive those involved in such lustful activities, he said, adding that those committing such acts are "outside the fold of Islam."Maulana Rahat Hussain, a leading Peshawar religious scholar and former member of the Pakistani National Assembly, agreed, saying that true religious scholars and true holy warriors would never indulge in such acts. Such men can't be called Muslim, he said. "But there are black sheep everywhere," he said. "There were hypocrites even in the days of the Holy Prophet (PBUH)."Still, Islam has no room for sexual contact with boys, he said. Practice dates back decades Senior Pakistani military officer Brig. (ret.) Said Nazeer also confirmed the practice of taking "bacha bazi," or "boys for pleasure.""I have served as a commander of forces in border areas and knew well how young boys are exploited and taken away," Nazeer told Central Asia Online."Boys â€“ good-looking ones â€“ were often taken as war booty by commanders during the Afghan jihad [the 1979-1989 anti-Soviet war]. â€¦ The situation has not changed. â€¦ The people are the same, the culture is the same and conflict is there, so the practice is continued," he said, adding that women, teenage boys and young children face huge risk in every conflict zone.Aqeel described the problem as "widespread" in both countries. "Keeping good-looking boys instead of women for pleasure is fashionable [among the militants]," he said.