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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 August 2005, 14:53 GMT 15:53 UK
Madrassas resist regulation drive
By Zaffar Abbas
BBC News, Islamabad


A young madrassa student in Multan, Pakistan
Pakistan is under international pressure to regulate madrassas
Pakistan's madrassas have decided to resist the government's registration campaign unless some of the new requirements are withdrawn.

The Wafaq-ul-Madaris, the main grouping of seminaries, is unhappy with several measures, including an obligation to disclose the source of donations.

The government drive is aimed at preventing the schools from involvement in illegal acts or preaching hatred.

The countrywide registration of the madrassas began on Wednesday.

Reassurance

The registration of more than 12,000 Islamic schools is the biggest move by President Pervez Musharraf to streamline the country's religious institutions.

The mushrooming of madrassas in the past two decades has alarmed many people at home and abroad as some of them were found to have close links with the Taleban and other militant Islamic groups.

Although most madrassas only offer free Koranic teaching and have nothing to do with militancy, the move to register them is also part of the campaign to bring them closer to the country's main educational system.

Officials say President Musharraf's other aim is to satisfy his allies in the West over the close monitoring of all such religious institutions.

Initially, the madrassa organisers said they would co-operate with the registration drive.

But as the government was about to start the enrolment process, the association that controls most of the madrassas said it would boycott the programme unless what it termed as objectionable clauses were removed from the registration form.

Wafaq-ul-Madaris' spokesman, Qari Hanif Jullanderi, said the madrassa organisers were not prepared to disclose the source of their funding as they feared the government could use the information to victimise private donors.

They have also asked the government to clarify what it means by sectarian or hate literature as, according to the madrassa spokesman, the basis of all religious education is its differences with other religions.

A senior official said the government was planning to hold a meeting with all madrassa representatives to resolve the dispute.


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