To many from the outside world, Pakistan is a state from the Stone Age. Most people living in Europe and America believe that people of Pakistan are fundamentalists or extremists. They view the seminaries as schools for religious learning, not as academies for education and thus find them suspicious. However, the problem with those who adopt religious education is that they never get integrated in the fabric of society. They start their career as poor people and mostly finish as poor. Their way of life is distinctly different from the large majority of people. These factors lead to isolation of this group resulting in a gap. This social isolation is a dangerous phenomenon that can lead them to extreme acts by the opportunistic fundamental outfits always waiting to make recruitments for militancy.

The students, moreover, have to look for work after completing the seminary studies. As they lack education or any skill their social integration becomes all the more difficult. A few steps are needed. They could also be taught Arabic as a language and given an additional skill to turn them into working class individuals.  Poverty and ignorance that breed violence within these students also needs to be eradicated.

Muhammad Iqbal Shaikh,

Lahore, September 3.