Religious seminaries outnumber formal schools in Islamabad

‘Parachinar blast serves reminder on govt to implement NAP’

Zubair Qureshi

Friday’s terrorist attack serves a grim reminder on the government which is little interested, at least it seems so, in taking action against unregistered seminaries. As a test case, Islamabad the federal capital of the country, abounds in such unregistered seminaries which are around 35 in almost all the sectors, suburban settlements etc. According to latest survey, the total religious seminaries in Islamabad are around 374 in urban and rural areas both. This means religious seminaries are more in number than the formal schools (a little more than 340, rather 348 to be exact) working under the Federal Directorate of Education (FDE).
An official of the Islamabad administration requesting anonymity said those (seminaries) fulfilling the requirements get registered, however, he added many seminaries do not have proper land lease or rental documents. “We do not allow registration of Madressahs that are established at encroached land,” he further said. The ICT has also conducted a survey which shows that there are around 35 mosques built at green belts adjoining the main roads. It may be mentioned here that during the last four years, the federal government did not plan any new school in Islamabad on the other hand, a number of madressahs are cropped up in the capital territory.
These religious seminaries have outnumbered the capital’s educational institutions (191 primary, 60 middle and 97 high schools). However, 43 being higher secondary schools are considered intermediate colleges and are not included in the list of schools.
The new residential sectors of G-13 and G-14 have no public schools but a number of seminaries are operating there. For the last many years, no new school could be constructed in any sector,’ this was confirmed by an official of the Federal Directorate of Education (FDE). However, CADD keeps saying that for the forthcoming budget establishment of five new secondary schools (two in G-13, one each in sector G-14, Margalla Town and Pakistan Town) are on its agenda.
Meanwhile, a number of rights groups and organizations including political parties have condemned Parachinar terrorist attack of Friday calling the government to take concrete measures against terrorist and extremist outfits and implement National Action Plan in letter and spirit. Awami Workers Party (AWP) in a statement expressed sorrow over the loss of 24 lives in yet another market explosion in Parachinar on Friday — the second market bombing this year and the 4th since 2013 in the headquarter of the Kurram Agency.
AWP President Fanoos Gujjar expressed sympathies with the families of those killed as well as injured in the terrorist attack. The proscribed outfit Lashkar-i-Jhangvi al-Alami and Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan’s (TTP) splinter Shehryar Mehsud group has claimed responsibility for the gruesome attack.
Jamaatul Ahrar, the TTP splinter that has claimed responsibility for the Friday attack. The attack has disproved the claims by the government and the security apparatus of gains in the war against militancy.
Fanoos said there was a need for firm steps and political will to take action against hate preachers and the sympathizers of the extremists in the government, in judiciary, and other state institutions to weed out sectarian extremism.

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