While the public opinion is divided on the role of religious seminaries in our society, international actors are united in seeing them as nurseries for terrorism. Acting accordingly, Pakistan decided to take control of operations of Jamaat-ud-Dawa’s (JuD) educational and health services. Now the provincial government has asked the Auqaf Department to prepare a report on the expenses of the seminaries of JuD that are under its control. Auqaf Department has already sent a statement of costs of Madressah Hudebia’s operations to the provincial government. But the question that needs to be asked from the provincial government is what compels it to fund the seminaries of JuD?

If the rationale behind funding is that it will bring seminaries under the control of the provincial government, then there are hundreds of seminaries operating in Punjab. Why is the provincial government keen on bearing the expenses of schools belonging to JuD only? The provincial government then needs to come up with a detail report of all seminaries that are running in Punjab.

Nevertheless, these institutions can manage funds on their own. Punjab should not repeat what the provincial government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) did when it announced a package of 227 million in provincial budget for Dar-ul-Uloom Haqqania. The KP government was rightly censured for just giving money to one particular seminary. The provincial government move was seen more an attempt of forging a political alliance with Sami-ul-Haq rather than an attempt of mainstreaming the religious schools. The sincerity of KP government was rightly questioned.

A parallel can be drawn between the moves of both provincial governments. In KPK, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) wanted to secure the support of Sami-ul-Haq against Fazl-ur-Rehman. Whereas in Punjab, Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) has to operate these after confiscating them from their previous owners.

There are areas of public interest Punjab government needs to focus on. There is a lot that needs to be done in the field of public health, education, and transportation in Punjab. It will be better if the provincial government focuses more on issues that are of public importance. Only delivering on these things can help the ruling party to win the upcoming elections.

Merely funding religious schools will not solve the issue of militancy. It needs a broader policy that includes a progressive and scientific curriculum that preaches tolerance, peace and importance of a pluralist society. If political opportunism takes the space, it will be an unrealistic dream to see a Pakistan without a terrorist mind-set.