PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari's threat of a crackdown on seminaries has run into a lot of flak. Certain religious groups as well as others regard the idea of the closure of those not conforming to government demands as unacceptable. There may be many sharing Mr Zardari's thoughts but the fact is that these religious schools are doing a job which in large part our government has failed to do: providing education, food and lodging and all free of cost. This is a big relief to the parents who find a comforting refuge for their children in these institutions, relishing the hope that they are better off than having no education at all. Though there are concerns about the modus operandi of some of these madaris, which have formed links with militants, the real reason why they are considered an eyesore is their exclusive focus on the type of religious education and training they impart that makes the students vulnerable to extremism. Mr Zardari has talked about reforming the syllabus of seminaries to include modern disciplines to make it possible for their graduates to find jobs in various professions of the modern world. As the country already has different syllabi being taught by the government-run and private educational institutions, one wonders which syllabus he has in mind. Introducing identical syllabus in public and private schools should also be a priority and could be applied to seminaries, which can continue to teach religious subjects as well.