Reportedly, the “Saudi Embassy has informed Riyadh of Pakistan’s concerns over funding to religious seminaries from Saudi Arabia”. For decades now, religious seminaries have been receiving funds from foreign donors, mostly from the Middle East. It is done either through banks or other means such as cash transactions through unregulated mediums. It is comparatively easier to track funding done through banking channels and even foreign exchange companies as the record of each transfer is available with them but it becomes far trickier to trace funding through unregulated means. Sheikh Waqas Akram, member of the ruling PML-N, has said that he has witnessed sectarian “molvis” going on foreign tours to raise funds for their seminaries. Mr Akram added that while laymen are required to reveal and justify their assets, radical elements affiliated with seminaries are answerable to none.

In Punjab alone, there are 6,550 unregistered seminaries, which means that they have also not apprised the government or related institutions of their source of funding. According to a police official, they are refusing to cooperate and provide information pertaining to their funding. Punjab Home Minister, Col (r) Shuja Khanzada, has conceded that some “brotherly countries” are indeed funding certain seminaries in the province. These brotherly countries are pumping money and fundamentalist, sectarian ideologies into local seminaries to the detriment of Pakistan. Mr Khanzada’s remarks contradict the report put before the Senate last Friday, which claimed that not a single seminary in Punjab was receiving money from other countries. On this issue, Additional General Police Muhammad Almish had said, “The requisite may be treated as nil. No madrassah receiving financial and training assistance from Muslim countries has come to our notice during surveillance.” Either the Punjab Police is inexcusably incompetent or it is deliberately misrepresenting facts.

It is becoming increasingly clear that the government is not ready to implement the National Action Plan (NAP). Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan always spends more time clarifying who is not guilty rather than pointing out who is. With him ‘serving’ as the Interior Minister, the chances of success appear slim. There are also reports that lawmakers themselves are creating obstacles because of their vested interests and sympathies with radical elements in their constituencies. On the other hand, Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman has warned the government from cutting foreign funding to seminaries. It would appear that the Maulana’s threats are entirely unnecessary since the government performance on this front is quite poor. But the JUI-F Chief’s ramblings show where his interest and loyalties lie; certainly not with the people of Pakistan.