A mirror to the West

REFORMING seminaries has long been a topic of discussion not only in Pakistan but also elsewhere in the world especially after 9/11. A study on role of seminaries carried out by three research institutions with the support of Royal Danish Defence College — launched in the federal capital on Tuesday — is a positive addition to the discussion as it does not point any negative finger on the religious institutions but has furnished some very concrete recommendations to bring improvement in their education system which indeed is need of the hour for mainstreaming seminary students.
There is a general impression in the West that religious seminaries are factories that are producing a radicalised and extremist lot to carry out terror acts. Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal while addressing the launching ceremony of the study on the role of seminaries, put the record straight when he categorically and without mincing any words accentuated the underlying reasons of the whole matter. He stated that onus of the radicalisation of education in seminaries rests with the US which used these institutions to prepare foot soldiers against the erstwhile Soviet Union back in 1979. Whatever Ahsan said is a historical fact and nobody can dispute it. And indeed it is time to call a spade a spade when fingers are wrongly being pointed towards Pakistan for the whole mess. In fact it is the flawed and discriminatory policies of the West towards Muslims that are leading to more radicalisation and those who cultivated these seeds are now themselves harvesting the crop as the young breed in Europe is being attracted towards extremism and joining the conflict in Syria. While it is time for western countries to review their policies towards the plight of Muslims in Myanmar, Kashmir and Palestine, our federal and provincial governments must allocate massive funds for public sector primary and secondary schools, colleges and universities so that more trained and competent teachers and greater number of students could be accommodated and enrolled in them, while education must be free till matric. Arabic as language and study of Quran must be started from primary classes. Once this objective is attained all seminaries and private coaching centres must be closed and banned. We need reliable educational institutions that produce high quality human beings, enjoying strong character and sound research-based education to meet present day requirements in all walks of life.

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