The government has, for the first time, admitted that close to 80 seminaries operating in Pakistan are receiving financial support to the tune of Rs300 million from a dozen countries. The seminaries received the funds during 2013-14.
“Financial assistance for religious or sectarian purposes is discouraged as this potentially threatens to violate law and order and sectarian harmony in the country,” stated the interior ministry, responding to a question by Pakistan Peoples Party Senator Sughra Imam.
She said that she wanted to know why this is happening only in Pakistan. “Why the government is telling a lie. We lawmakers are being kept in the dark about madrassas being financed by many countries.”
This is so far a grey area, she observed, and pledged to take up this issue again in the Senate tomorrow (Friday).
Senator Tahir Mashhadi says almost all seminaries are being financed in one way or the other by someone. “Foreign funding to seminaries is very dangerous. It has triggered sectarian war in Pakistan. It [foreign funding] must be blocked on a now or never basis.”
It is decisive time and the government needs to seriously execute National Action Plan by taking action against both good and bad Taliban, he added.
In Islamabad, the interior ministry revealed that the Embassy of the Netherlands donated Rs2.5 million to Helping Hands Welfare Association Baltistan (HHWAB) for students of local seminaries and schools. The Australian High Commission provided Rs3 million to Malik Welfare Association Baltistan in order to support seminaries in the northern areas of the country. A US-based organisation, Kashmir Family Aid, contributed Rs0.7 million last year to the HHWAB for local seminaries and schools.
Additionally, the government allowed Malik Welfare Association Baltistan to receive funds from Saudi Arabia in 2009. In the same year, the interior ministry permitted Maulana Aziz-ur-Rehman to receive financial assistance from Saudi Arabia for the construction of Aoula Mosque/Madrassah in sector G-6/1 in Islamabad.
It was also found that Dr Tahir Qadri’s Idara Minhaj-ul- Quran Secretariat received Rs189,705 from the UAE and Rs132,802 from Qatar.
Secretary General Pakistan Awami Tehreek Dr Raheeq Abbasi, who is also associated with Idara Minhajul Quran, said those seminaries which are being financed by other countries should be banned as according to him they are promoting their own agenda which cause sectarian violence in Pakistan.
About Minhaj-ul-Quran, he, however, stated that they were not taking funds from foreign countries, adding that only those individuals who are members of Minhaj abroad are donating for them.
While the Punjab Home Department has claimed that not a single Madrassah in the province received foreign funding, documents belonging to the interior ministry and available with The Express Tribune reveal that Madrassah Jamiat-ul-Islam Sargodha was the recipient of Rs13.3 million from the Sheikh Eid Charitable Association; the money was funneled through Qatar Islamic Bank and National Bank of Pakistan. The Jamiat-ul-Islam Sargodha also received Rs25.3 million through the same banks.
“The requisite may be treated as ‘nil’. No madrassah receiving financial and training assistance from Muslim countries has come to our notice during surveillance,” Additional Inspector General Police Muhammad Amlish stated.
On January 8, 2014, Senator Sughra Imam said, “This reply is deceiving the Parliament because it belied ground realities. I will press the government on this issue.” Senator Imam had questioned foreign funding for seminaries in May last year as well.
The Madrassa Aisha Siddiqa Trust of Gulistan-e-Jauhar Karachi received Rs35,000 from an unknown source, the Sindh Home Department stated, while the government granted the Trust’s Director Dr Naseer Ahmad permission to receive funds from Kuwait in 2009. The home department stated that the Ahmed Jaffer Foundation and Sindhi Muslim Cooperative Housing Society Shara-e-Faisal received funding from a Gulf state. However, the department did not disclose the names of donors or the amount received.
Saudi Arabia is funding Madrassah Affan bin Usman Ahle-e-Hadis, Jamia Ashrafia Peshawar and Madrassah Taleem-ul-Quran of Mahalla Munawar Shah, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) home department revealed. Madrassah Abu Bakkar in Lower Dir received Rs3 million from Kuwait in 2014. Darul Arabia Khayl Uloom Pabbi, Uloom Islamic Daagi Tadeed, Darul Quran Mazhiruloom Akbar Pura Darul Uloom Spin Khak Pabbi and Darul Uloom Karimia also received funds from Kuwait, but the home department did not specify the amounts.
Madrassah Al Jamia Al-Arabia Taleem-ul-Quran in Lower Dir received Rs3 million from Qatar. Dar-ul-Uloom Haqqania Akora Khattak is being funded by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, but the home department did not reveal the amount of funding.
The government also allowed the administration of Main Campus of the University of Science and Technology Bannu to accept financial assistance from Saudi Arabia to construct a mosque. Dr Jehandar Shah was also allowed to take funds from Saudi Arabia for the construction of new blocks at Shaheed Benazir Bhutto University Upper Dir in 2011 and Dr Ihsan Ali of Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan received funding for the construction of the Islamic faculty in 2012.
Saudi Arabia is funding Madrassah Jamia Dawarul Haq on Quetta’s Airport Road, Madrassah Arabic Darul Islamia uloom Toheed Sunnah, Madrassah Jamatul Islamia, Madrassah/Masjid Al Toheed-Ahle-e-Toheed and Madrassah Ansaria Ahle-e-Hadees, Nawan Killi, Quetta. Jamia Ahle-e-Hadith Balochistan received Rs16,000 from Bahrain, while Iran is funding Madrassah Fatima Zahra Syeda, Madrassah Imam Hussain and Madrassah Khatmul Nabeen. The home department did not reveal the amounts donated in these cases.
Additionally, Madrassah Remania Tehfeezul Quran received Rs0.9 million from Qatar, Jamiatul Ulum Alsria received Rs11 million from Dubai, Jamiatul Uloom Islamia was given Rs12,000 from Saudi Arabia, Jamiatul Uloom Islamia received Rs265,000 from the UAE, Darul Uloom Jamia Anwar Mustafa was given Rs190,000 by the UAE. Kuwait provided Jamiatul Manahil Kheriya with Rs51 million.
Madrassah Dar-ul-Uloom Baltistan received Rs12 million from Kuwait, Masjid Gulzar Ghoi was given Rs2000 by Saudi Arabia and Jamia Khair Ul Madaris received Rs100,000 from Hong Kong.
Jamiat al Huda al Kharia Welfare Society received Rs33 million from Qatar while Islam Trust received Rs262,000 and Dawat-e-Islami was given Rs28,680 by the UAE.
Additionally, Home Department Balochistan told The Express Tribune that some 30 Quetta-based seminaries are being funded by Saudi Arabia. However, these seminaries have not disclosed the amounts that they are receiving.
View documents with details of foreign financial aid received by seminaries in Pakistan here.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 29th, 2015.