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UK says its aid not used to fund madrassahs in Pakistan

March 26, 2019

LONDON: Britain’s Department for International Development (DFID) has said that its aid budget to Pakistan has not been utilised for funding madrassahs – including in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).

A spokesman for 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 madrassahs every year in Pakistan during summer holidays.

The report in the Mail on Sunday particularly mentioned Darul Uloom Haqqania (DUH) madrassah in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa which received a large amount of funding from

the PTI government prior to elections in 2018 and feared that around £2.2 million of the aid given to the KP by the DFID could have funded the radical madrassahs.

The DFID spokesman told Geo/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 3000 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 return 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 told.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 madrassahs. Some of these madrassahs have links with community organisations and Imams in the UK.

The secret home office report found that the visiting British children have been attending Darul Uloom Haqqania (DUH) madrassah in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa; Jamia Binoria in Karachi and Jamiatul Uloom Ul Islamia in Azad Kashmir. These madrassahs denied involvement in extremism of any kind. The report feared that British taxpayers may have inadvertently provided it with funds.

It mentioned decision of the PTI government to hand over around £2.2 million grant to the madrassah in 2016, ignoring its links with extremism.The Jamia Binoria madrassah said that the British students no longer attended and the madrassah had no involvement in extremism.

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 government sees their reports. The British government departments use their own third party monitors to ensure that results are delivered and funds are spent in accordance with programme agreements.

A source said: “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.”

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