The Muslim Times’ Editor for Pakistan
Credit: Xpress Tribune
The recovery of 45 people, many of them minors, who were held captive at a seminary near Sohrab Goth in Karachi, highlights both the failure of madrassa reform and the need to restart the process of registering and monitoring these schools. Figures from the ministry of religious affairs show that there are about 18,000 registered madrassas in the country, but unofficial estimates put the actual figure at more than double that number. Part of the problem is that registration was made voluntary, ensuring that only those seminaries which intended on complying with the government would register, while those seminaries being used for extra-educational purposes would escape the government’s net. The education ministry had also been provided over $70 million in aid to modernise the curriculum in madrassas but most of the funds were not utilised due to non-cooperation from the seminaries. Obviously, the least of the problems with this particular seminary was its syllabus but had it been registered it would have given the government an opportunity to regularly monitor goings-on there. A lot of the captives, it turns out, had been sent to the seminary by their parents because they had drug abuse issues and other problems.