Facts, figures and opinion based on The Express Tribune reports:
• There are around 18-24,000 registered madrassas in Pakistan. There are countless more unregistered seminaries.
• There are as many as 83 illegally constructed mosques and seminaries in Islamabad alone.
• The ministry of interior provides madrassas — including illegal ones — with walk-through gates, along with police officials for security.
• Unlike Pakistan, in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, Iran, the state controls religious learning to prevent sectarian disharmony in society.
• 90 per cent of foreigners studying in religious seminaries across the Punjab have expired visas.
• On paper, the government plans to demolish madrassas not registered with the Wafaqul Madaris Al-Arabia Pakistan and Tanzeemul Madaris Pakistan.
• But the government is hesitant to demolish illegally set up madrassas fearing a violent backlash like Laal Masjid.
• There are numerous cases of torture, rape, violence and terrorism connected to madrassas in 2011 alone.
• The education ministry was provided over $70 million in aid to modernise the curriculum in madrassas.
• Most of the funds were not utilised due to non-cooperation from the seminaries.
• The US Commission on International Religious Freedom has researched Pakistani school textbooks to discover that there is religious bias in them denigrating minority communities.
• The study was based on visiting 37 public schools and 19 madrassas.
• “Madrassas not only spread a certain kind of ideology to students, they also spread it in society, to the families and extended families of these students. Saleem H Ali did a much better study and found that madrassas also spread sectarian hatred, and do not allow pupils and society to look at alternative perspectives within the religious discourse.” - Ayesha Siddiqa.
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