ISLAMABAD - The issue of madrasa reforms has united major religious political parties, which are usually divided and in disagreement, as leading religious figures are warning of mounting an anti-government movement if the PML-N goes ahead with its madaris-related proposals in the National Internal Security Policy.

Talking to The Nation on Monday, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) chief Munawar Hassan warned that meddling in the affairs of religious seminaries would prove a bad deal for government. “Such kind of moves could not succeed in near past,” said the JI chief, adding the security policy seems to be formed taking input of secular lobby.

“They should deliberate with concerned persons before implementing this plan,” he said warning the government of strong protest across the country. He further said that all religious factions are united to counter government’s expected move.

Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F), the PML-N’s coalition partner, is opposing the government’s intentions and set to be part of the protests.

JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rahman has already cautioned the government to refrain from interfering in administrative, financial and curriculum related matters of seminaries.

“We are not opposed to any government scrutiny. Between 1994 and 2004, no Madressa could be registered. However, in 2004 there was a new legislature and agreement with Musharaf government. According to which Madressa will only be registered if it accepts the government’s scrutiny on funds, curriculum and management,” said a JUI-F spokesman while talking to this scribe.

“If there is any criminal activity in a Madressa, action should be taken against it. No agency takes permission to raid such suspicious activity. So those criticizing Madressas do not want to know about this piece of Social Act legislation,” he added.

He further said that they would launch protest against the Madressas’ inclusion in the National Security Policy as they believe that the debate has already been settled with the previous government on reform issue.

“It is a fact that Madressas are functioning due to the pathetic neglect of successive governments’ of education system: only 1 percent of GDP is being spent on schools,” he added.

“If extremism is an issue, Al Qaeda-affiliated members have been arrested from Lahore and Karachi universities. Was the Kamra base attack planned and executed by a Madressaa student? Obviously not,” he added.

When contacted, Ahle-Sunna Wal-Jamaat (ASWJ) chief Maulana Ahmed Ludhyanvi said, they would not compromise on interference in seminaries affairs in such a manner. “They would counter the government’s move and all the religious factions are united on one stance,” he said adding that the government is not giving a single penny to seminaries but indicating such kind of moves.

He said the erstwhile coalition partners of Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) and other religious factions are rallying around to oppose the government’s expected move about seminaries.

When contacted, Qari Muhammad Hanif Jalandhari from Wafaq-ul-Madaris Al-Arbiya said the government intentions are not rational. “The syllabus of religious seminaries is approved by the Higher Education Commission (HEC) and audit system is practised regularly,” he said, adding that this would not be an appropriate step of the government.

He also termed the PML-N government’s internal security policy as a “ploy” to “witchhunt’ Islamic religious forces.

It would not be out of place to mention here that the NISP clearly mentions, “It is important to integrate them within the national education system by supporting their administration, financial audit and curriculum accreditation.”

The policy draft also says, “Among other reforms in criminal justice, it also requires review of the regulatory capacity of the State to monitor, evaluate and prevent the misuse of existing laws under which mosques and madrassas are functioning.”

Earlier, Secretary General of Wafaq-ul-Madaris Al-Arabia, Maulana Hanif Jalandhari, had announced that rallies would be organised across the country to protect the independence of madressas and spread awareness about the syllabus being taught there.