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HVK Archives: Islamic schools in Pakistan breed terrorists

Islamic schools in Pakistan breed terrorists - The Times of India

Posted By Krishnakant Udavant (kkant@bom2.vsnl.net.in)
October 15, 1998

Title: Islamic schools in Pakistan breed terrorists
Publication: The Times of India
Date: October 15, 1998

The call to prayer wails. Young boys put aside their study of
the Koran to shake out their prayer rugs and kneel, face down,
towards Mecca. For these students, life is simple. Their days
are spent praying and studying the Koran.

But when they leave Pakistan's exploding number of small,
private religious schools, they have few skills that help them
get jobs. Many remain unemployed, surviving on occasional manual
labour. Some people believe the schools are creating a growing
pool of Pakistanis easily recruited to extremist Islamic causes.
Most of the students come from the poorest families, who send
their children because the institutions feed and care for them
as well as provide education.

But the education is often limited. Many of the schools teach
only the Koran and stress the responsibilities of Muslims to
fight for Islam. Former prime minister Benazir Bhutto's
government tried to reduce government funds to the religious
schools and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif sought to regulate
curriculum. But the efforts were derailed by small right-wing
religious parties.

The authorities say nearly 4,000 religious schools are
registered in the country, with 540,000 students. But thousands
more unregistered schools are believed to exist, turning out
students who go on to fight for Islamic parties in Afghanistan's
civil war and may be ready to join other militant movements.

Nasrullah Babaar, who as Pakistan's former interior minister was
in charge of the national police, views some religious schools
as "hotbeds of terrorism".

"All this is a carryover from the Afghan Jihad," said Mr Babaar
in an interview. Now, he said, some graduates are involved in
fighting between Shi'ite and Sunni Muslim groups that has caused
hundreds of deaths in recent years.

"The fact is that it affects the entire society ... You can see
the result in the sectarian clashes that take place," Mr Babaar
said. "It wouldn't be happening otherwise".

Teachers at Markaz-Uloom-e-Islamia, a combination of school and
mosque, say they teach their students the Koran and the
obligation to fight for Islam at home and abroad. uch schools
graduated thousands of Afghan Mujahedeen" freedom fighters who
battled the Soviet Red Army in the 1980s in Afghanistan. And now
they boast of schooling the men who make up the backbone of the
Taliban religious army that has won control over most of
Afghanistan in recent years.

There are not only Afghan Taliban but also Pakistan Taliban ...
"There are no frontiers in Islam," said Qari Shabir Ahmed, head
teacher at Markaz-uloom-e-Islamia. Taliban authorities have
imposed a restrictive vision of Islamic law in Afghanistan that
forbids most forms of light entertainment and bars women from
working, girls from going to school and men from mingling with
women other than their wives.

The Taliban movement works for an Islamic revolution. The
religious right wing, while weak in Parliament, has
traditionally been the catalyst for street demonstrations that
have toppled governments. In Peshawar in September, religious
leader Fazle ur-Rehman warned that his group was ready to lead a
revolution. Thousands of banner-waving young men, demanding a
government based on Islamic teachings, massed for Rehman's

At a religious school in Akora Khattak, outside Peshawar, Sami
ul-Haq, a Muslim cleric and senator in the upper house of
Parliament. issued a religious edict threatening to launch a
holy war if the government signs the nuclear test ban treaty.

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