LONDON: Britain’s Department for International Fund (DFID) has said that its aid budget to Pakistan has not been utilised for funding madaris – including in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).is
A spokesman of the DFID spoke to this correspondent after concerns were raised here through a “leaked” Home Office report that nearly 3,000 British children attend extremist madrassas every year in Pakistan during summer holidays. The report in the Mail on Sunday mentioned that around £2.2 million of the aid given to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by the DFID could have funded the radical madaris.
The DFID spokesman told Geo and The News: “All DFID funds that go to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are earmarked for agreed purposes, which do not include funding madrassas. Our funding is audited.”
The Mail on Sunday claimed that a Home Office report has warned that more than 3,000 British children are being taken to Pakistan each year and enrolled in extremist summer schools where they are taught a “glorified version of jihad”.
The paper quoted a Home Office official as saying that some youngsters will be radicalised and returned to the UK with a warped ideology and pose a terrorism risk. “It is highly likely that this education in Pakistan, even for short periods of time, increases the risk of exposure to extremism for British-Pakistani children,” the source said. When contacted by this correspondent, a source at the Home Office said that the report was genuine but leaked. “We cannot comment on a leaked report.”
The Home Office report found that some Pakistani parents take their children back to their native homeland during summer holidays under the pretext of visiting extended family but in reality they sign them up for lessons at madrasas. Some of these madrassas have links with community organisations and Imams in the UK.
However, the madaris in Pakistan denied involvement in extremism of any kind. “If some of the students turn violent or extremist, then what can we do? We have nothing to do with it.”
The British government sources said that it checks that funds are used for the specified purposes in a number of ways. The Auditor General of Pakistan audits provincial finances and the British govt sees their reports. The British govt departments use their own third party monitors to ensure that results are delivered and funds are spent in accordance with programme agreements. Said a source: “We have a public financial management programme which operates in KP; it works with the Finance Department and acts as another check that DFID funding and UK taxpayers’ money is used effectively for the purpose intended.”