Seminaries need govt’s patronage

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Situationer

Tariq Saeed

Allocation of Rs 300 million by the PTI led coalition KP government for Darul Uloom Haqqania in the new Khyber Pukhtunkhwa budget has unnecessarily raised many eyebrows though setting aside the fund for the seminary was only aimed at bringing the religious institution in the main stream that is the need of the hour.
Unfortunately the move has drawn baseless criticism from some political forces that have from day one been offering resistance to every step taken by the PTI government for the welfare of the masses.
This uncalled for opposition by certain quarters even to a positive move, has prompted the KP information minister to clarify that the purpose of allocating Rs. 300 million to Darul Uloom Haqqania Akora Khattak was mainly aimed at mainstreaming the religious seminaries as around 3 million students were enrolled in these seminaries where they are fed, sheltered and taken care of without any expense.
Infact the special Assistant to Chief Minister KP on Information and Public Relations Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani has very rightly said a couple of days back that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) which has the vision to streamline all sorts of education to evolve one education system, seeks bridging appalling disconnect between the government and the seminary system.
While the major chunk of the fund ear marked for Darul Uloom Haqqania will be utilized for construction and repair of its building, the provincial administration also seeks to enhance monitoring and oversight of the religious seminaries which is not possible without catering to their needs.
Those at the helm of affairs in the PTI government insist that the provincial government is keen to enhance financial as well as technical assistance to religious schools in the province to bring them under the umbrella of provincial education regime and the step is the first in this direction. Evolving universal education system is the target of KP government, which certainly is not possible by pushing hundreds of religious schools in the province towards isolation.
On the other hand the administrator of the Haqqani seminary Maulana Sami ul Haq has regretted in strong words what he termed the negative propaganda by certain media houses against his institute saying it has nothing to do with terrorism. Terming the Haqqania Darul Uloom as the biggest and the oldest seminary of the country Maulana Sami claimed that a number of graduates from Darul Uloom Haqqania were today heading the Islamic studies departments of some leading universities of the country and that a reputed leader of Awami National Party (ANP) late Ajmal Khattak also graduated from his institute.
He said that Darul Uloom Haqqani was a well-equipped seminary fulfilling all the requirements of the modern age including a state of the art computer lab, modern languages academy, technical education programme and teachers training center. It was affiliated with the Mardan Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education.
Maulana Sami cautioned against a malicious campaign by the Western countries against religious institutions in Pakistan under a well-planned conspiracy to malign them adding it was most unfortunate that people within country including some important figures of the ANP and a key minister of the federal government also formed part of that conspiracy.
Contrary to the apprehensions of those opposing the grant to Darul Uloom Haqqania, the ground realities are totally different. The Rs 300 million grant has been allocated for a two year period and that too for the changing the level of the Haqqania school to college which would include expansion, up-gradation of the building and other paraphernalia. Moreover, use of the funding would be supervised by the provincial government itself under a fool proof mechanism and proper audit in order to ensure transparent utilization of the funds.
It is considered opinion that the students of the religious seminaries cannot be left at the mercy of mere donations and need patronage of the government.
If the students of the religious seminaries are not brought up in a respectful manner and left to be fed only on charities by some philanthropists and general public, sometimes in disgusting style, their self-respect and ego is destined to be hurt rather remained undeveloped. It will be unwise to expect them become enlightened religious scholars in the atmosphere of uncertainty, distrust and economic disparity.
Moreover, it is also the demand of the National Action Plan to bring the religious institutions in the main stream so that their working and system are streamlined and they produce better religious scholars who can interpret the religion in a positive manner and also contribute to the progress of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan as enlightened citizens. And this objective could not be achieved unless the seminaries enjoy complete support of the government, in moral and financial terms.
One wonders as to why those opposed to the allocation of meager amount of Rs 300 million for Darul Uloom Haqqania, did not object to the US grant of Rs 300 million dollars (100 times bigger amount) released by the US government in the name of Madrassa Reforms between the year 2002 t0 2007 in the former dictator Pervez Musharraf’s era. It’s a different story that a hefty amount of 96 million dollars stood lapsed during that period as seminaries were reluctant to accept the US grant.
No doubt it is the right of the opponents to criticize the steps they think are not taken for the welfare of the masses or lack sincerity, but only resorting to opposition for the sake of opposition will serve no good, rather sometimes it may prove detrimental to the national interests and provide opportunity to our enemies to advance their nefarious designs.

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