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Govts warned not to take any adverse action against madrasas

February 12, 2019

After holding its regional conferences across the province, the representative body of Deobandi seminaries in its one-day central conference warned the federal and provincial government authorities that any ill-intended action taken against seminaries at the behest of foreign powers would not be accepted.

The Wifaqul Madaris al Arabia (WMAA), a board of Deodandi madrasas, held its central Paigham-e-Madaris conference at Jamia Uloom-ul-Islamia, Binori Town, to show their concerns over attempts of federal and provincial governments and their policies towards religious seminaries.

Prominent clerics, including WMAA Central head Maulana Dr Abdul Razzaq Sikandar and Secretary General Maulana Hanif Jalandhari, Imdadullah Yousafzai, Maulana Talha Rehmani, Maulana Qazi Abdul Rasheed, Maulana Dr Muhammad Adil, Maulana Mufti Muhammad Tayyab and Maulana Zar Wali Khan, spoke to the conference, which passed a resolution issuing a list of 23 demands to the government.

Different issues, including the registration and regulation of seminaries, their syllabi, restrictions on collecting hides of sacrificial animals, names of madrasa leaders on the Fourth Schedule and the Punjab Charity Act, were included in the resolution. Later in the evening, the WMAA leaders spoke to a press conference at the Karachi Press Club, where they reiterated their demand that the federal government hand over the affairs related to madrasas to the ministry of education, implement a uniform registration policy across the country, and ease the process.

They also demanded of the government not to send madrasa registration applications to the home departments, saying this was making the process complicated.

“After a gap of few months, personnel of a law enforcement agency or an intelligence body started visiting madrasas and asked them to provide information, Rehmani, who is the WMAA‘s media coordinator, said, suggesting that government should collect information from all seminaries through a one-window operation and all law enforcement agencies could get details from it.

The madrasa leaders also demanded lifting the ban on foreign students willing to study in Pakistani madrasas and to give them visas easily. “Also, foreign students who are already studying in Pakistan’s madrasas have been facing issues with the renewal of their visas. We also demand to resolve the issue,” Rehmani said.

They also asked the federal government to hand over the responsibility of dealing with the affairs of the madrasas to the federal education ministry. Currently, the interior and religious affairs ministries as well as the National Counter Terrorism Authority have been dealing with these affairs.

Rejecting the Punjab government’s charity bill, they termed it a curb on madrasas’ freedom and a move to deprive students of religious education. They said they would not tolerate such laws and propaganda against seminaries. They expressed concerns over the restrictions on madrasas to collect hides of sacrificial animals during Eidul Azha as well as over the arrests made in connection with any such move.

The seminary leaders also asked the government to award the five Wifaqs the status of an independent federal educational examination board or a degree-awarding university.