ISLAMABAD: Members of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Cabinet Secretariat debated the Compulsory Education of Arabic under the Arabic Bill 2015, while the emphasis of the discussion was whether the lack of Arabic as a subject in the curriculum was the cause of terrorism in Pakistan.

The bill was debated in absence of the mover of the bill, MNA Naeema Kishwar Khan.

“We have started focusing on the English language, and parents put their children in English-medium schools and do not bother teaching their children the Arabic language. It is because of this attitude that terrorism is increasing,” PML-N MNA Parveen Masood Bhatti claimed.

Opposing the stance. Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) MNA, Syed Ali Raza Abidi stressed that even people who speak Arabic can be terrorists and spread terrorism .

Committee member Nafeesa Khattak from the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) affirmed her support for the bill in positive terms, saying introducing Arabic as a compulsory language from “the start of education” would allow children to learn and understand the Quran and help a large number of people get jobs.

Differing to the Nafeesa's comment, the Committee chairman Rana Mohammad Hayat Khan responded that the inclusion of Arabic would not increase job opportunities, and paraphrased Allama Iqbal, saying those who study Arabic would only get jobs selling oil.

“Students who are serious about studying the Quran, they go to mosques early in the morning and after that they go to school,” he added.

PTI’s Asad Umer suggested that the language of the Quran and its translation should be taught to students, claiming that “85pc of mosques in the federal capital are run by those who do not preach what is mentioned in the Quran”.

Though, Nargis Ghalo, Secretary at  The Ministry of Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) opposed the bill on the premise that there are not enough teachers available to teach Arabic . “In provinces such as Sindh, where local languages are also taught, the inclusion of Arabic as a compulsory subject will put an extra burden on the children,” she added. “Arabic is introduced from the sixth standard as an elective subject, but it is observed that the majority of students do not opt [for it].”

The opposing members remarked that there were reservations regarding appying the bill in totality. MQM's Abidi upheld his position by stating that the opinion of the Wafaqul Madaris be sought. Chairman Hayat Khan, however, directed the CADD ministry to bring concrete suggestions for the bill before approval time or it would be finalised according to the committee members’ opinions.