A crackdown on a seminary in the capital by the Rangers along with the Rawalpindi Police has yielded the arrest of terror suspects, causing embarrassment for the Islamabad police who had been denied entry into this particular seminary. The dynamics between the Rawalpindi and the Islamabad Police show a clear dysfunction. While the Capital Police officials were criticised at their lack of professionalism, they claim that it is an unfair advantage for the Rawalpindi police who have support of their senior officials while they face the heat for doing an ineffective job.

Twice the Islamabad Police had checked the aforementioned seminary, but they failed to retrieve information regarding their students and their backgrounds. They were also denied entry to the residential area of the seminary and due to the lack of support from their higher ups; the check was concluded without yielding results. Now that the Rangers have officially begun a covert operation in Punjab more incidences like these are bound to come to light.

The government’s efforts to rein in madrassas have prompted anger from many clerics, who accuse the authorities of maligning religious leaders in a bid to build an “anti-Islamic narrative”. There is also the question of possible resistance from Pakistan’s wealthy friends in the Gulf. In January, a Senate committee heard that seminaries were receiving funding from Middle Eastern countries including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar. But the government is seen to go ahead with the operation despite the opposition from the religious groups and the external pressure and it is most certainly a move welcomed by many.

With such a long-standing support for religious seminaries and madrassas this opposition was expected. Pakistan is a deeply religious society and, despite misgivings about madrassas, clergy are generally well respected. Overcoming resistance from them will take tantamount political will and determination that seems to be lacking so far. The Interior Ministry had been seen making excuses regarding the effectiveness of the National Action Plan but Shuja Khanzada’s death has spurred all authorities into taking serious steps towards rooting out terrorist elements from these seminaries.

The police needs to be empowered if these checks are expected to yield any real results. Relying on the Rangers to be the heroes is all well in good but the local police has an important role to play to in the daily monitoring and surveillance of the activities carried out by the seminaries and the students to ensure law and order in the capital. If their hands are tied we cannot blame them for not doing their job effectively.