Our government has started to realise that there is something fundamentally wrong with the madrassa culture. As such, they have made recommendations for a standardised madrassa curriculum including “science” as a subject. Once more, they fail to address or accept the real issue.

One, these recommendations make the assumption that the system is open to change, or will be able to implement change. Who will oversee it? Who will authorize it? Certainly not a government the Madrassa deems a non-authority on religious affairs.

Two, let’s be clear. Madrassas are not an alternative education system. The idea of reforming them to make them evolve into a more “mainstream” vision of school, is laughable. Madrassas are however, an alternative way of life for young children who the state has not provided a counter-narrative to. The rise and popularity of the Madrassa are a reflection of state failure; and to reform state failure is failed strategy.

Three, even if the religious right allowed the government to come within a fifty mile radius of madrassa education, seminaries are a dime a dozen. According to Shahbaz Sharif, there are approximately 500 madrassas that aren’t even registered yet. It is almost too ambitious to say it will be a logistical nightmare to find them, register them against their will, create and then maintain a standard of madrassa “education.”

This government and those that came before it never managed to come to terms with the dangers of indoctrination through seminaries. How far away are they, even now, from the real issues at hand? That these are not “schools” in need of a syllabus overhaul. That changes are not implementable if the madrassa “teachers” resist and dismiss them as non-authorities. That it is the existing education system that must be revamped and reformed, and it must render the seminaries obsolete, give poor children real schools to go to, and get them off the streets.

Even now, the proposal fails to accept the gravity of the situation. There is no middle ground to be taken when pondering the question of seminaries. Either you allow them to continue and absolve them of all their crimes assuming that they have the moral high ground, or you clamp down and ensure that extremism and sectarianism are rooted from the country before more damage is done.