Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government facing criticism for aiding religious school

Islamabad: Pakistan’s northwest Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial government has recently come under sharp criticism from the opposition for donating a sum of USD 2.5 million to the Darul Uloom Haqqania, an Islamic seminary in Akora Khattakan, as aid.

Religious schools in Pakistan have long been blamed for producing extremists, and there is a view that as long as curbs are not imposed on them, militancy and terrorism will not end, and will continue to be exported from Pakistan’s soil.

The Voice of America quoted Syed Alam Mehsud,the president of nationalist Wolesi Tehreek party, as saying that the provincial government which is headed by Imran Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) party, is guilty of supporting extremist elements.

“This will not help to curb militancy in the country. And, if Pakistan is blamed for supporting militants, this proves it,” he said.

This is not the first time that the provincial government has provided aid to the religious school. Last year, Rs.300 million was donated to the institution.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has responded by saying that financial aid is necessary to improve educational standards and facilities of religious schools.

The move has been criticized on multiple platforms, including the social and political arena.

Some critics suspect the government is using public funds for personal political gain.

It is believed that Taliban leaders, including former Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar, attended Darul Uloom Haqqnia, run by Maulana Samiul Haq.

The Government of Afghanistan too has long blamed madrasas (religious schools) in Pakistan for producing extremists. Kabul has also claimed that these schools are responsible for the violence taking place on its soil.

“The reason that terrorism still exists in Afghanistan, although Afghan forces have killed thousands of them, are the madrasas on the other side of the Durand Line (the border line separating the two countries) that produce terrorists,” the VOA quoted General Mohammad Radmanish, a spokesperson for Afghan Defense Ministry, as saying.

Gen. Radmanesh added there are an estimated 10,000 religious schools operating in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa alone, some of which, he claimed, train militants for jihad in Afghanistan.

Pakistan denies these allegations and maintains that its military operations have targeted militants of all kinds.

“Military-led counterterrorism operations have targeted terrorists indiscriminately, including Haqqanis, at a heavy cost of blood and treasure,” Pakistan army spokesperson Major-General Asif Ghafoor was quoted, as saying.

This charge of Pakistan religious schools getting aid from provincial governments comes at a time when Islamabad has just three months to convince the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) that it is complying with international anti-terrorist financing regulations to avoid being placed on a global terrorist-financing watch list. (ANI)