Pakistan announces plan to purge extremism from madrasas

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Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan during his address to the nation in Islamabad on Feb 27, 2019. (Screen Grab: @PTIofficial/Twitter)

Islamabad:  Pakistan has formulated a plan to regulate its madrasas to bring them into the mainstream and stop the students being inculcated with extremist ideologies, Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood has said.

The announcement, coming days before Prime Minister Imran Khan’s first-ever visit to Washington, is the most recent effort to address concerns that the country’s over 30,000 madrasas or religious seminaries, with their inflexible religion-based curriculum, ill-equip the students to find jobs after graduation.

Mehmood said on Friday that a leading association of the madarsas – the Waqaf-ul-Madaris – had agreed to the plan, under which the seminaries and other religious schools would incorporate subjects like English, Science, Mathematics, and others so as to lay a proper foundation for the students’ education.

“No hate ideology directed at any religion would be allowed to be propagated,” he said.

Facing pressure from various countries to curb terror outfits operating in the country, Prime Minister Khan had earlier this year announced the plan to begin at the grass root by bringing the madrasas into the mainstream.

Over a decade earlier, then ruler, General Pervez Musharraf had also announced a plan to bring madrasas under the scanner but could not make much headway.

On the apprehensions that moves against the madrasas could backfire in the conservative country, Mehmood said that the government does not seek confrontation with the madrasas, which are the sole educational prospects open to children from poor families.

“We do not want to take over the madrasas. The change will take place slowly…,” he said.

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