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PTI defends funding to Madrassa Haqqania

June 29, 2016

Islamabad

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Isaf’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government’s sudden decision to give a grant of Rs300 million to Jamiat Ulema Islam (Sami’s) Madrassa Haqqania also has political reasons, as it is aimed at countering political influence of Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s JUI-F, it is learnt.

It is quite interesting to note as to why did the PTI-led provincial government to opt for this arrangement in its fourth budget that too without taking Maulana Sami or his seminary into confidence. There have been no formal or informal meetings between the provincial government and the seminary prior to allocation of the colossal amount in the name of seminary reforms.

A provincial minister conceded that they should have started the reform process earlier but insisted they were well on track to complete the task possibly in next two years. “Our intentions are clear and aim is high,” said KP Information Minister Mushtaq Ghani.  He noted all seminaries in the province would undergo reforms when asked why the provincial government specifically started with Madrasa Haqqania, though there were seminaries of other parties as well, more prominently of JUI-Fazl. 

Maulana Sami's party is part of Difa-e-Pakistan Council, a conglomeration of like-minded parties and it is believed that PTI's move would also help it gain sympathies of other components of the council as well besides JUI-Sami in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Lahore and southern Punjab and Karachi in particular.   

Ostensibly, the criticism, pouring in from almost all walks of life, forced PTI leadership to rush a delegation of two ministers-Minister for Elementary Education and Secondary Education Muhammad Atif and Minister for Public Engineering Shah Farman to the seminary on June 24, where they met Maulana Sami and other officials of the facility.  “Nothing wrong if we convince leading personalities in our province to not only reform their seminary networks but also have soft corner for us,” said a provincial minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, who did not wish to be identified in the story.

However, when approached, PTI’s Central Information Secretary and a close aide of the party Chairman Imran Khan, Naeemul Haq, vehemently denied the grant had anything to do with politics or countering Maulana Fazlur Rehman.

He insisted in accordance with the vision of Imran and the National Action Plan, the provincial government wanted to reform seminaries and bring them into the ambit of mainstream. “With this aim, a ministerial team met Madrasa Haqqania leadership and both agreed on swift reforms,” he noted.

Among a long list of demands, Maulana Sami requested for upgradation of the madrasa’s higher secondary school to a degree college and provision modern facilities at the college as well as the madrasa.

After the meeting, a media note was also released, which said that the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government takes pride in being the first that was taking practical steps in bringing the madrasa and its students to mainstream by introducing reforms, having short and long-term reforms.

It said subjects of mathematics, computer sciences, English language and general sciences would be introduced in all madrasas. “The provincial government recognises the fact that Darul Aloom Haqqania is the oldest and Pakistan’s largest madrasa ad has active links with international universities like Jamia Al-Azhar,” the media note said.

On his part, Maulana Sami thanked the KP government that took interest in the affairs of this madrasa and pledged their support to develop the modern education system alongside the traditional Islamic teachings.

KP Minister for Higher Education and Information Mushtaq Ghani, when contacted o telephone, told The News that the grant being given would be utilised for the seminary’s building and degree college Haqqania would be built this year.

He said the provincial government was working on mainstreaming of the seminaries, which played a key role in imparting religious education and after reforms, these would also be handy in preparing the youth for useful professions.

Asked was not this step aimed at politically countering Maulana Fazl, arch-rival of PTI, particularly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, he smiled and said that whenever, the provincial government took bold and innovative measures, it faced criticism from certain quarters. “ How would those criticising the allocation of the grant, react on this that for the first time, our government has allocated Rs. 200 million for the trans-gender segment of the society,” he quipped.

He maintained that PTI knew well how to deal with political rivals and it did not to go for pecuniary options.

This correspondent tried to get viewpoint of Maulana Sami, but he did not respond to the call and madrasa's spokesperson Babar Hanif's cell phone was found switched off. 

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