Finally, state Minister for Interior Baleeghur Rehman has confessed that some of the seminaries are getting foreign funding from ‘some Muslim countries’. Also he accepted the Government’s inability in checking the details of these transactions.
After the attack on Army Public School (APS) Peshawar, the Government finally decided to launch a National Action Plan (NAP) to fight terrorism and militancy in the country. For this purpose, Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N), after taking the Parliamentary parties on board, tabled a bill for 21st Constitutional Amendment. Most of the religious parties have objected to the 21st Amendment. They are of the view that after this amendment, Madaris (religious seminaries) will be targeted in the name of security. JUI-F and JI had not participated in the voting to register their protest against this amendment.
There is heated debate going on about the funding of Madaris, foreign students enrollment in such Madaris and the steps to be taken by Government in accordance with the National Action Plan. Apparently the representative organizations of Madaris are resisting attempts to register and regulate the Madaris. The contention of madrassa regulation traces its root in the tenure of former Dictator President Gen. Pervaiz Musharraf.
In Musharraf’s regime, an agreement was signed between Ittehad Tanzeemat Madaris-e-Deeniya (ITMD) and then Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz in which both parties agreed on the registration of Madaris under the amended act of Registration of Societies Act, 1860. In the said agreement, ITMD also showed leniency on the issue of foreign students and they were also ready to provide any guarantee on the behalf of foreign students.
Now as PML-N government attempted the registration of Madaris without any such agreement with ITMD, it is inviting a strong reaction from Madaris. In a report published on Monday, Wafaq-ul-Madaris secretary general Qari Hanif Jalandhri said that they didn’t object the registration of madaris but the procedure.
Also according to media reports, Punjab Government is to deport 500 foreign students from Madaris whose visas have expired. And the Government has also decided to retain them till their deportation to their home countries.
These both reports hint a lack of coordination between the Government and the Madaris that seems necessary for the registration of the latter.
There is no doubt that a big number of deserving students are studying and residing in Madaris. They are not only getting religious education there, they also get residence, meals, cloths and other necessities of life.
On the other hand, it is also true that in the past there has been a very strong connection between the terrorists and Madaris.
Let’s have a look at some of the terrorists who have strong connections with Madaris:
Naeemullah, who attacked Karachi CID Police Chief Chaudry Aslam, was a student of a Madressah and his father was an Imam of Orangi Town Mosque.
Baitullah Mehsood and former head of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Taliban Hakeemullah Mehsood were student of the same madrassa in Hangu. Hakeemullah Mehsood was killed in a US drone strike.
Hafiz Gul Muhammad was student of a madrassa in Multan. He participated in Afghan war in the 80s and later he joined Jamiat Ulma-e-Islam.
Waled-Ur-Rehman was a student of Jamia Islamia Imdadia, Faisalabad and after that he went to Waziristan.
Mullah Fazalullah got religious education from the madrassa of Molvi Sufi Muhammad in Swat that was established by the Taliban.
Khalid Haqqani belonged to Darul Aloom, Akora Khattak and he was a close aide of Hakeemullah Mehsood.
Mastermind of suicide bombings Qari Hussain belonged to a madrassa of Karachi Jamia Farooqia. He tried to convince the students of Jamia Hafsa to join Ghazi Force.
Kosar Ali who attacked Wah Cant Police Check post was a student of Jamia Hafsa.
In the response of these allegations, the defenders of Madaris argue that there are so many terrorists who belonged to different universities. Such as Omar Sheikh who aided the 9/11 attacks was an alumnus of London School of Economics.
In a report published by dawn.com, Interior Ministry claims there are 20 thousand Registered Madaris whereas the numbers of unregistered Madaris is 40 thousand. So the total number of Madaris is 60 thousand and majority of these Madaris are unregistered.
On the other hand, according to ITMD, an organization that represents Madaris of 5 major sects, there are 26 thousand Madaris which are registered and only 4 thousand Madaris are unregistered.
In 1947, there were only 300 Madaris in the country. In 1988, the number of Madaris increased to 3 thousands. In 2005 when an agreement was signed between then Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and (ITMD), there were 13 thousand Madaris in which 1.5 Million students were enrolled. Now in 2015, the number of Madaris is 30 thousand with 3 Million students enrolled.
Madaris Working under Ittehad Tanzeemat Madaris-e-Deeniya (ITMD)
Wafaqul Madaris Alarbia Pakistan
About 80 percent of the Madaris in ITMD belong to Deoband sect and according to the website of Wafaqul Madaris Alarbia Pakistan, they have 18677 branches and affiliated Madaris in which 23045512 students are enrolled. The number of teachers appointed for them is 90349.
Idaara-e-Tanzeem-ul-Madaris Ahle Sunnat Waljamaat
This Barelvi sect’s organization covers 10 percent of the Madaris and comes second in numbers.
Madaris belonging to Shia sect work under the umbrella of Wafaq-ul-Madaris Alshia and the numbers of their Madaris is about 500.
A number of 5 hundred Madaris work under the banner of Wafaq-u-Madaris Alsalfia.
Under the supervision of Jamat-e-Islami, this network is the fifth body of ITMD and they have more than 400 Madaris across the country.
One of the most important questions asked about these Madaris is about their funding. As admitted by the state Minister for Interior, some of the Madaris receive funding from Muslim countries. Allegedly these countries finance different Madaris to fuel sectarian and religious hatred. There is no system of auditing prevalent in Madaris.
A rough calculation of the minimum running expenses of these thousands of seminaries will be in billions of rupees per month.
In the end, I have a question for Secretary General ITMD. According to him the Government is violating 2005 agreement. When the agreement was signed between then government and ITMD in 2005, the number of Madaris was 13000 in which 1.5 Million students were enrolled. Now in 2015, there are 30 thousand Madaris in which 3 Million students are enrolled. So how can the Government register all the 30 thousand Madaris according to 2005 agreement when the numbers of Madaris and students have more than doubled in less than 10 years?