Militant Madrassas – This is the time to fix them.

Dr Ishaq Inqilabi
For Developing Pakistan

Some may feel that the state must allow the northern campaign against the Talibans to succeed before opening another front.  This thinking is flawed on several counts.  There may be under 5000 Talibs but probably two orders of magnitude (ie 500,000) supporters of the Talibs spread across Pakistan’s madrassas that teach them violent Wahabi Islam with money from Saudia and elsewhere.
The Pakistani public is slowly beginning to see the nastiness of the radicals.  Sad events like the callous bombing of Lahore on May 27th, makes them more receptive to eliminating the corrupted madrassas which preach violence.
We suggest the following urgent, doable 9 steps:

  1. The ISI and other agencies of the state compile a list of madrassas countrywide which encourage violence – they probably already have it.  The largest ones are, for example, Maulana Sami ul Haq’s at Okara Khattak and the Binori Mosque in Karachi.  Touch these biggies at the end.
  2. Estimate the number of students in the smaller and medium sized violent madrassas and establish how many orphans are studying in them.
  3. Send the military to all the madrassas almost simultaneously (yes, pull them away from the Indian border) so that within at most a week all the violent madrassas are cleared of the offending mullahs. 
  4. Those kids who have parents must be asked to immediately claim their wards and have them sent to a school in their neighborhood.  They must return to living with their parents.  In the short term the state should support the kid to the extent that he/she was being supported by the madrassa.
  5. The orphans be kept in their cleaned-up madrassas under new management.
  6. Our school education in govt schools is rotten and that in madrassas worse.  Once the steps 1-5 are completed, and with proper planning this can be done within a month (don’t laugh, it is possible with the right will), one must in parallel devise a training program for the teachers in the madrassa using the best available technology and materials to make them capable of imparting modern education, including enlightened religious education. 
  7. The AIOU, Virtual Univ and all the TV channels should be mandated to produce 2 hrs of educational programming each for these transformed madrassas.  This ought to be supplemented with master trainers, imported in large numbers in the short term.
  8. The same electronic media sources should be manadated to produce the same amount of programming for govt schools, with the same kind of human (imported) and material resouces as in 7, only more so as here one is dealing with a much larger number of students.
  9. Starting with the madrassa reform, we will have moved to reforming education in the govt schools as outlined in 8.

All this may seem like a pipe-dream, but given the best talent in Pakistan, supported by foreign experts, this worthwhile transformation can be achieved well before the fighting in the north ends.
The question is whether the public & the thinking media is smart enough to push the govt and the military to go along with what’s suggested.

NB: Yes, we are aware that the above ideas need to be fleshed out.  Work has already been done so that will hardly taken any time to make it available to the govt. 

It will however need to be sold persuasively via the media to the publci at large.  The pro-active role of the government and its supporters is essential.  Let the money coming in for development be used for something as revolutionary as this.  If not then most of it will be wasted!

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