Friday, June 21, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Pakistan bans foreign funding of madarsaas

Islamabad, June 20
The government has approved a decree that entitles madarsaas (seminaries) to official aid only if they impart modern education along with religious teaching. Information Minister Nisar Memon made this announcement at a Press conference here on Wednesday after a cabinet meeting chaired by General Pervez Musharraf.

Madarsaas refusing to register themselves with special education boards to be set up by the government “will not be allowed to operate,” the Minister said. And unregistered madarsaas, it has been decided, will not receive any donation or aid from any foreign source.

Likewise, the admission of foreign students or the appointment of foreign teachers had also been made subject to valid work visa and NOC (no objection certificate) from the Ministry of Interior. “A regulatory mechanism has been put into place for foreigners coming and acquiring education in these madarsaas (religious seminaries). And they will be going through all the NOCs that are generally required for any educational institution,” Memon added.

Pakistan has thousands of madarsaas run by private Islamic groups or religio-political parties and many of their pupils from neighbouring Afghanistan formed the radical Taliban movement in the 1990s that ruled that country for six years.

Many Pakistani pupils of these schools joined the Taliban to fight against an opposition alliance based in northern Afghanistan and later to oppose a US-led punitive military campaign that toppled the Taliban government last December.

“Any madarsaa, which does not register itself and of which we don’t have any information, will be disbanded. And it is there that: one, they will be closed immediately; they will not be allowed to re-establish themselves,” the minister stated.

According to him, the number of madarsaas in Pakistan “runs into thousands” although he could not give an exact figure. Islamic sects such as the majority Sunnis and the minority Shi’ites and sub-sects have their own madarsaas with their syllabi, at times giving different interpretations of Islamic beliefs, often leading to sectarian violence.

Memon said the government would not interfere with the religious syllabi of the madarsaas but insist that they introduce the additional subjects of science and mathematics, and English and Urdu languages. Those not agreeing to introduce these four subjects would not get government aid, he said.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, in its annual report last March, accused the military government of failing to demolish the structures that promote militancy and terrorism despite backing the US-led war on terror.

That appeared to be a reference to the Islamic madarsaas and the government Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, widely accused of links to Islamic militant groups, especially those fighting in Kashmir.

Musharraf has banned seven extremist militant and sectarian organisations since a government crackdown on extremist groups began in August last year and arrested hundreds of activists. He has also been urging clerics to modernise the madarsaas, which have in the past defied any government control. The clerics are often charged with receiving donations from foreign Islamic governments or private groups of their sects without subjecting themselves to audit.

Under the new decree, “every registered madarsaa shall maintain accounts and submit annual report to the respective board”, Memon said. ANI


No comments: India
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 20
India today declined to comment on Pakistan taking strong measures to stop the foreign funding of madarsaas operating in that country, saying that it was their ‘internal matter’.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nirupama Rao while replying to a specific question said it was their internal matter and the stopping of the funding could be part of the process.

She said India’s focus was on putting pressure on Pakistan to end cross-border terrorism and we are concentrating on it.

Pakistan had yesterday passed a new law where all madarsaas in the country would have sign up with the newly created Madarsaas Education Board within the next six months. There are as many as 10,000 madarsaas, mostly unregistered, running in Pakistan.

The law said only the registered madarsaas would be entitled to financial assistance from the government and none can receive financial assistance from foreign sources.

To another specific question whether India was contemplating to take some more steps to ease tension with Pakistan, the External Affairs Ministry spokesperson reiterated that India would take steps “as and when we deem it necessary”.


Pak rounds up 6 Al-Qaida suspects

Karachi, June 20
The Pakistan police has rounded up six Arabic-speaking foreigners linked to the Al-Qaida terror network of Osama bin Laden in this volatile port city, police sources said today. “In the past one week, we have detained six persons linked to Al-Qaida,” a senior police official said on condition of anonymity. AFP

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