ISLAMABAD Speakers at a rally held in connection with Womens Day, highlighted issues such as lack of opportunities for women; devising of a policy for women empowerment and the connection between protecting womens rights and peace. Representatives of civil society, human rights activists and intellectuals participated in the march. The participants were holding placards and banners inscribed with slogans in favour of womens rights and against Talibanisation, obscurantism and bigotry. Starting from Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) head office, the procession ended near Parliament House in the parade ground of Blue Area where some of the participants made brief speeches. They highlighted the role of women and pledged to join hands for protecting their rights. Earlier, women and their male supporters participated in a discussion on Womens Perspective on Militancy, Security and Fundamental Rights and Role of Women in Peace Building arranged at Sustainable Development Policy Institute. Talking about role of madrassahs in terrorism, Dr Fouzia Saeed who also heads Mehargarh said that Islamabad has 305 madrassahs. Keeping in view socio-economic background of citizens, the city does not have so many parents who will be forced to send their children to the seminaries out of poverty, she noted. She said the people from far-flung areas like Kohat and Bannu join madrassahs. She continued that ideology of militancy involves using madrassahs as breeding ground for extremists, militants and suicide bombers. She called for an investigation, research and analyses of role of these madrassahs, which are established at any place found unused at the moment including green belts. She referred to Islamabads Master Plan, which envisaged only one mosque in a sub-sector and one at the Markaz of a sector, but the religious institutions were violating the Master Plan openly under the nose of civic bodies and law enforcing agencies. In her address, Farzana Bari highlighted that madrassahs were being built on highways including GT Road and they can take over roads whenever they like. It is a planning for their future strategy, she noted. Dr Farzana said that students had platforms like student unions where they could bring out their pent up feelings and learn how to lead a better life but these forums were systematically eliminated by Gen Zia-ul-Haq, who promoted so called Jehadi culture in Afghanistan now engulfing our beloved country. Replaying to a question, she said that the number of seminaries increased from 1,500 in the 1980s rose to thousands in 1990s.