ISLAMABAD: Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood on Monday said the education ministry had completed its initial work to register all seminaries and none would be allowed to promote hatred and sectarianism.

After holding a meeting with all leading religious scholars, the minister held a press conference in Islamabad on Monday during which he announced that both parties - education ministry and heads of religious boards/seminaries – had finalised with consensus an agreement for registration of all 30,000 seminaries operating in the country.

The minister, however, said the seminaries (madressahs) will not be working as subordinate organisations of the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training, rather as affiliated institutions.

Says madressahs violating code of conduct to be closed

“In today’s meeting with religious scholars of Ittehad Tanzeemat-i-Madaris, it has been decided that all seminaries will be registered with the education ministry,” Mr Mahmood said, adding that the education ministry will set up 10 regional centres in various parts of the country for registration of seminaries.

He said those seminaries which will not acquire registration will be closed.

The minister said during the meeting, it was also decided that the education ministry will cancel registration of seminaries that violate set code of conduct. “No one will be allowed to promote hatred against the country and society. There will be no space for promotion of sectarianism,” the minister said.

Mr Mahmood said all registered seminaries would have an account in schedule banks and his ministry will assist them in opening the accounts. Registered seminaries would be allowed to enroll foreign students and the education ministry would help these students in their visa process, he added.

He, however, said foreign students could get education in Pakistani seminaries for a maximum period of nine years.

The minister said for technical and vocational education, the seminaries will be facilitated in getting registered with vocational training institutions so that their students can acquire vocational education as well.He said religious scholars from various schools of thought who attended the meeting included Mufti Mohammad Rafi Usmani (Mufti-i-Azam Pakistan and vice president Wafaqul Madaris Al Arabia) Mufti Muneebur Rehman (Tanzeemul Madaris Ahle Sunnat Pakistan president), Maulana Hanif Jalandhari (Nazim-i-Aala, Wafaqul Madaris Al Arabia), Maulana Mohammad Yasin Zafar (general secretary Wafaqul Madaris Al-Salfia), Allama Syed Qazi Niaz Hasan Naqvi (vice president Wafaqul Madaris Al-Shia) Dr Attaur Rehman (general secretary Rabta-ul Madarasul Islamia) and Maulana Mohammad Afzal Haidri (general secretary Wafaqul Madaris Al Shia Pakistan) attended the meeting.

“After holding discussion, we made all these decisions with consensus, and the religious scholars signed the document, detailing all decisions we made today in the meeting,” the minister said.

He said the government will provide all necessary patronage to seminaries so that their students could also get maximum chances to excel. They will be provided chances to get contemporary education besides religious education.

He said the education ministry was supposed to deal with the affairs of the seminaries and will collect statistics of these seminaries.

Published in Dawn, May 7th, 2019