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Pak drafting law on madrassas regulation

Pak drafting law on madrassas regulation

Mubashir Zaidi
The Hindustan Times
February 2, 2000
Title: Pak drafting law on madrassas regulation
Author: Mubashir Zaidi
Publication: The Hindustan Times
Date: February 2, 2000

Pakistan's military government is currently working on a draft law to regulate and monitor the workings of madrassas, religious institutions as well as to keep tabs on sources of their funding and educational operations, Pakistan Observer reported today.

Quoting sources in the Ministry of Law, the paper said that the ministry is in the final stages of vetting a law, which will put effective check on the activities of religious parties and groups.

The paper said that chief executive General Pervez Musharraf held two lengthy meetings with provincial governors and one very significant meeting with US Secretary of State Karl Inderfurth along with Chief of US Department of International Terrorism in this regard. "The decision to make strong laws to check military activities of religious institutions has also come in the wake of growing pressure on Pakistan to not to allow its soil to be used for proxy wars," the paper reported.

The paper said that there is a growing pressure on Pakistan from the international community to strictly check the Jehadi groups operating in the country after the Indian plane hijacking episode and intensification of freedom movement in Kashmir.

The major function of the proposed board will be to monitor sources of funds of institutions, particularly from international donors, to impose ban on military training, and keeping of weapons at the premises of these institutions, and control spread of religious confrontation and sectarianism through these institutions.

The government has established a regulatory board to register all the existing madrassas to check their activities. "They will also be required to furnish a statement containing following particulars, (a description of religious institution, (b) the number of students registered at the institution whether on full time or part time basis, (c) particulars about teachers and their salaries, (d) brief description about the courses being taught at the institutions, (e) any other training whether physical or technical being given at the institution, (f) final qualification granted by the said institution, (g) sources of income of the institution, (h) amount of funding, if any, from government, (i) estimate of expenses annually incurred, (j) property belonging to the institution, (k) main sponsors of the institution, (l) affiliation with any University, Jamia etc and (m) and any other particular which may be prescribed," the paper said quoting various sections of the legislation.

The Board will have power to suspend or cancel certificate of any institution if there is a contravention of any of the provisions of the law.

Contravention of the provisions of the law will be punishable with imprisonment and fine or both. The past PPP government of Benazir Bhutto tried to curtail the activities of religious institutions by forming a Regulatory Board for Religious Institutions, but before the law could be legislated in the National Assembly, Ms Bhutto's government was dismissed.

The paper said that the government was facing resentment from various religious parties over the proposed law. "The government has confirmed that military authorities have held a number of consultations with key religious leaders over the proposed law. Ironically, no leader is ready to divulge source of income or agree to a proper audit of their accounts. The only redeeming factor is that all religious parties agree that Madrassas must not become hub of terrorists or source of cross border terrorism."

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