JUBAIL, SAUDI ARABIA: The Bangladesh government has started monitoring Friday prayer sermons to ensure imams are abiding by the given guidelines to highlight the dangers of extremism. Guidelines on anti-militancy sermons were sent to around 200,000 mosques all across the country. These require clerics to not only speak against religious militancy but also to talk on this topic in day-to-day interaction with people attending prayers at mosques.
Bomb blasts by Islamic militants in 2004-2005 prompted the government not to take any chances and it started cracking down on religious and sectarian outfits.
Bangladesh learned the lesson from the chaos, which several countries, including Pakistan, have plunged into because of their inability to confront militants on ideological and material fronts. In Pakistan, most mosques and madrassas are in the control of religious/sectarian parties and their respective outfits. They take their party line in daily interaction with the general public and weekly sermons, which are either openly pro-militants or offer disguised support to them. They often try to project militant attacks as part of a war between Islam and the ‘infidels’.
Pakistani governments — past and present —have failed to bring the madrassas under any administrative control. Moves to get the seminaries registered and to get their funds and spending audited have proved to be a non-starter. Our only hope lies with Rehman Malik’s biweekly declarations to start crackdowns against banned sectarian outfits and not to allow them to collect zakat, fitra, etc. I wonder if Mr Malik needs some special glasses to see the huge banners erected all across Karachi by Jamaatud Dawa, Lashkar-e-Taiba, etc for collection of funds this Ramazan. Perhaps, we can never learn from Bangladesh; we might have crossed the age to learn anything tangible.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 14th, 2012.
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