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kabul
November 21, 2018
The Kabul Times

Time for seminaries’ reformation in Pakistan

Unfortunately, the seeds of extremism have penetrated too deep into the fabric of the Pakistani state and society for them to be countered by haphazardly written counterterrorism plans. It will take no less than a generational effort to root out extremism and regain Islam’s true message of peace, tolerance and respect for all faiths. Of the several products of religious extremism that plague Pakistan, sectarianism is going to remain the most dangerous one for the foreseeable future.
In Pakistan, educational institutions and academia have become a key factor in extremism and terrorism. Although regarding the connection between education and extremism in Pakistan much attention has remained focused on the role of seminaries also known as Madrassas, that promotes extremism and terrorism.
Pakistan’s religious schools trace their traditions back through nearly a thousand years of Islamic teaching. Over the last decades, however, they increasingly have played a role contrary to their original intent. Founded as centers of learning for the next generation of Islamic scholars and clerics, the schools now increasingly dominate the education sphere. The present danger is that most of these schools have built extremely close ties with radical militant groups and play a critical role in sustaining the international terrorist networks.
These seminaries have now been turned to the main threats for Pakistani government and people too. Students of such centers have not only attacked Afghan people, but also targeted civilians and Pakistani government’sinstitutions in the past. The threats now even have affected the trainers of such centers too.
Recently, Pakistan’s prominentreligious scholar who is also known as “father of the Taliban” was stabbed and shot to death in his home outside Islamabad on Friday, his family and aides said. Haq was the head of the Haqqania Madrassa in the north of Pakistan, where many Taliban members – including the group’s founder, Mullah Omar – had studied.
Meanwhile hundreds of suicide bombers and terrorists involved in martyring of Afghan civilians and security forces were graduated from the same Madrassa and some reportsuggests that thousands of extremistswere yet to be graduated from the school in coming years.
In an interview in 2009, Sami-ul Haq didn’t shy from Darul Uloom Haqqania’s links to the Taliban, where the 80-year-old cleric proudly embraced the title “Father of the Taliban” and said that his students should fight against U.S. and Afghan forces. He has been quoted as describing Mullah Omar as an “angel” and one of his star pupils.
Although for years, Pakistan has promised to clamp down on religious schools that preach violence and have been recruiting grounds for domestic and foreign Islamist militant groups and spreading extremism and terrorism in the region, in particular that of Afghanistan,but, radical seminaries like Darul Uloom Haqqania continue to operate freely and even receive Pakistani government’s funds.
The main danger of Madrassas is that many of the more radical schools have become havens for extremist groups that teach militancy contrary to the tenets of Islam. They produce a yearly supply of students/recruits, who become tools in the hands of violent fundamentalists.
To succeed in countering the negative influence of those Madrassas, which have been hijacked by extremists, the Pakistani Government must chalk out a comprehensive plan to deradicalize the society, and for this, reforms in madrassas are essential. Meanwhile, funding of these madrassas must be verified and approved by the Government and the curriculum of these madrassas should be checked and modern scientific education should be included in the syllabus.
The most important step should be that moderate Muslim clerics should be appointed in these madrassas and instead of extremism they should teach good points of Islam and acts of terrorists must be condemned. They should be told that killing of innocent persons even of different religion and sects does not constitute jihad.

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