Pakistan on Monday said it will bring over 30,000 madrassas into the mainstream education system in its bid to combat extremism, Dawn reported.
Military spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor, while addressing a press conference in Rawalpindi, said that of the 30,000 madrassas in the country, fewer than 100 were found to “be the kind that were pushing children towards extremism”.
Ghafoor said madrassas will be brought under the purview of the Ministry of Education in order to teach students contemporary subjects. “We will formulate a syllabus which will not have hate speech and students will be taught respect for different sects,” PTI quoted him as saying. Madrassas currently function under the Ministry of Industries.
Ghafoor said the Pakistan government will pay for the madrassas by diverting cash from the funds for anti-terrorism operations, which are less necessary as militant attacks have declined in recent years, Reuters reported.
“In February, money was allotted to bring the seminaries into the mainstream,” Ghafoor said. “To control the welfare activities of proscribed organisations, the government has made a system to mainstream their social activities.”
The military spokesperson said 2 billion Pakistani rupees (Rs 100 crore) will be required to run the programme and then Rs 1 billion every year for the programme’s upkeep. “We will provide these funds so that these madrassas are mainstreamed and all of our children have equal opportunities,” he said.
In March, the government announced it had taken control of 182 religious schools and detained more than 100 people in its crackdown on banned militant organisations.
“We want to end violent extremism in Pakistan and that will only happen when our children have the same education and opportunities,” Ghafoor said. He said a bill would be prepared in a month, following which the syllabus would be finalised and teachers would be appointed.
Ghafoor also claimed that there were no terrorist groups in Pakistan as military operations had broken the organised networks of militant outfits. “I can now say with confidence that there is no terrorist organisation in Pakistan anymore,” he said. We have proscribed violent extremist organisations and we have been working to curb terrorism in Pakistan.”
At the same press conference, Ghafoor warned India against testing its military’s resolve and said that it was capable of protecting its citizens. He accused India of relying on false claims about the Pulwama attack in India and the Indian Air Force’s air strike in Balakot.