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ME countries providing funds to religious seminaries, Senate told

Updated January 30, 2015

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— AFP/File
— AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: During Friday's session of the Senate, Minister of State for Interior Baligur Rehman informed the House that Middle Eastern countries namely Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Iran and the United Arab Emirates were giving aid to religious seminaries in three provinces.

The information was compiled on the basis of a report sent by provincial Inspector Generals (IGs). However, Rehman said he would not support or defend the statements made by the IGP on the matter.

According to the report presented before the Senate, 23 religious seminaries in the country are receiving foreign assistance. Out of the 23 seminaries, five belong to the Shia sect and are located in Balochistan.

Other seminaries are based in KP, Sindh and Balochistan and are part of the Sunni sect. No information was given with regards to the province of Punjab. However reports have said that the seminaries in Punjab are not receiving any assistance.

Following a demand made by Senator Sughra Imam, Acting Chairman of the Senate Sabir Ali Baloch referred the question to Senate Privileges Committee with directives that IG of Punjab police may be summoned before the committee to explain his position on foreign assistance being received by religious seminaries in Punjab.

The federal minister told the Upper House of Parliament that according to the anti-money laundering law, financial transaction of religious seminaries and Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) would be monitored.

The minister further told the House that some NGOs are receiving assistance from the United States, Netherlands and Australia.

Earlier, the opposition also walked out from the proceedings of the House over the absence of Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar and Minister of State for Interior.

Later, on directives issued by the chair, Rehman showed up at the house and responded to the questions relating to the Interior Ministry.

The Senate has been adjourned to meet again on Monday at 4 pm.

JUI-F chief warns govt‏ against stopping foreign funding

Meanwhile, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam Fazal (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman has warned the government against stopping foreign assistance from being received by Pakistan's religious seminaries.

"The government cannot stop this and if the buildings of seminaries are occupied, we would continue to teach under the shadow of trees," he told the media after chairing a parliamentary committee meeting on Kashmir.

He said the government was taking this action to please the United States which he alleged was creating disturbance within the country.