“Are the 2.5 million children in madrassas are not our children? Isn’t it possible to make doctors, engineers, and judges out of madrassa
students? Don’t they have a right to study the subjects like science, English, and mathematics?” Imran Khan talks about the 2.5 million children of madrassas.
“Our elite class looks very lowly of our poor children, the children of poorest families who study in Madrassas. Has anyone every asked that why there is no doctor, engineer or judge coming out of these children? Because all of the opportunities have been limited to English medium/ private schools only. That’s the reason they make judges, engineers, and
doctors. Are the 2.5 million children in madrassas are not our children?
We signed a MoU with Haqania Network because we
want to include these madrassa students in the national circle. Because they are not something to be ashamed of, they are our own children. None of the governments in Pakistan have ever tried to include them in the national circle. Our government has taken steps to include them in the national circle of Pakistan for the first time. The people who have a problem with it, are the ones who never helped the poor.”
What does the Shadow King of Pakistan have to say?
the all-powerful Pakistan Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa has repeatedly criticized the role of mushrooming madrassas, contrary to the views of Imran Khan. In a rare criticism of religious seminaries by a sitting head of the Pakistan Armed Forces,
General Bajwa’s comments are as significant as they get. The Pakistani military has long been accused of maintaining a soft spot for religious outfits.
Many, in the establishment support Gen Bajwa and claims that pupils educated at some of these hardline religious seminaries go on to become recruits for terror organizations. These organizations are, in reality, protected and molly-coddled
by the military as ‘strategic assets’ or disposable cannon fodder, depending on one’s view. Gen Bajwa’s statement needs to be taken with a big pinch of salt as they might have been made under pressure from the US and all-weather ally,
Pakistan saw a spectacular rise in the number of madrasas in the 1980s when schools, backed by funding from Arab countries, became recruiting
grounds for Islamic volunteers covertly funded by the West to fight Soviet forces in neighbouring Afghanistan.
And as is seen now, China particularly
is desperately trying to contain a restive province in Xinxiang, where ethnic Uighur Muslims are increasingly being perceived as a danger to the draconic and anti-ethnic Han communist government.
For parents mired in poverty and forced to work long hours with limited breaks,
madrasas served a vital role in ensuring their children are supervised, fed and taught to read and write. But the Zia period was the turning point for the madrasa system.
Many aspects of Islamic militancy, were introduced to madrasas during General Zia-ul-Haq’s rule (1977 to 1988). Having ousted a popular and elected Prime Minister, Zia faced considerable domestic
opposition, but the military’s attempts to consolidate power was assisted by events in Central and West Asia with global repercussions.
Iran, a revolution had given a new direction to Shia fundamentalism. The Iran-Iraq war (1980-88) United Sunni Arabs against Iran and they wrestled for influence in neighboring
Muslim nations. After the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, the U.S. and Arab states joined to bleed the erstwhile USSR by helping the Afghans wage a jihad against the Communists while containing Iran. Pakistan’s military was the key to this ‘Holy