Pakistan to Pass Islam School Laws

  • From: "Muslim News" <editor_@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <submit@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 22 Jun 2002 10:07:03 +0100

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan June 20 Pakistan's religious affairs minister said
Thursday the government would soon pass laws banning the teaching of
militancy and extremism at the nation's 8,000 Islamic religious schools.

Clerics found to be involved in fanning sectarian hatred and extremism
in the schools, known as madrassas, would face prison terms of two
years, said Dr. Mehmood Ghazi. 

"Under the new laws, to be enacted soon, no madrassas will be allowed to
indulge in militancy," Ghazi told reporters. 

The announcement is the latest in a series of moves by Pakistan's
military-led government to rein in religious extremists. On Wednesday,
the government said all madrassas, long considered a breeding ground for
Islamic extremism, would have register with an oversight board or face

Many senior officials of Afghanistan's former Taliban regime graduated
from madrassas in Pakistan, and hundreds of students went to Afghanistan
last year to fight alongside the Islamic militia against the U.S.-led

President Gen. Pervez Musharraf has promised both the United States and
rival India to prevent militants from causing chaos in disputed Kashmir
to the east, Afghanistan to the west and in Pakistan itself. 

His actions have angered conservative Islamic groups within Pakistan,
who say he has sold out to the West in order to maintain power.
Musharraf says his moves against militants are for the good of all

At Thursday's news conference, Ghazi said the government considered
Muslims' struggle for independence in Indian-controlled Kashmir to be
jihad, or Islamic holy war, but Pakistanis should not take part without

"The ongoing movement in Indian-part of Kashmir is jihad, but nobody is
allowed to join it from Pakistan without getting permission from the
government," Ghazi said. 

"Jihad without the government's permission becomes chaos," he said. 

Pakistan's dispute with India pushed the nuclear-armed neighbors to the
brink of war in recent weeks. The main flash point is Kashmir, which
both nations claim as their own and over which they have fought two of
their three wars since independence from Britain in 1947. 

The government plans to release $250 million to Islamic schools during
the next three years but says madrassas involved in militancy will be
ineligible for financial help. Madrassas, which Ghazi said have about
1.7 million students, also receive financial support from private
sources, including donors from the Gulf States. 

Source:  The Associated Press

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