Only 13,000 madressahs registered

RAWALPINDI, July 26: The ministry of religious affairs has so far registered only 13,000 religious seminaries, while their actual number is estimated to be over 200,000 across the country.

The interior ministry has expressed concern over the issue as ministry of religious affairs does not have a proper mechanism to determine the exact number of seminaries operating unlawfully.

The exact number of students studying in the country's madressas is not yet known, as the ministry of religious affairs has so far registered only those seminaries that house 30-40 students. The ministry provided cursory figures to the interior ministry after the Madressah Registration Ordinance was promulgated.

Officials in the ministry of religious affairs told this scribe, on Tuesday that it was an uphill task for the ministry to register religious seminaries, as there was no mechanism to trace unregistered madressas.

They said there has been a sharp growth in institutions associated with the Deobandi school of thought and the interior ministry was quite concerned about this and was proposing to hand over the job to the interior secretary, Syed Kamal Shah.

A source, involved in the process of registering seminaries, said that NWFP had witnessed the largest number of unregistered religious institutions, adding that a number of madressas were brainwashing students for militant activities.

"I think the interior ministry should be given the task to contain pro-militant seminaries as well as register other madressas. The ministry enjoys manpower and would more effectively tackle the issue," the source concluded. Dawn

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