After months of deliberation and negotiations between the government and the Ittihad Tanzeemant-i-Madaris, some fruitful results have been obtained, as the madressahs have agreed to the draft of the registration form and even including modern science subjects, English and Pakistan Studies as formal subjects, so that the children graduating from these seminaries actually have a chance at a viable future. The importance of breaking this stalemate cannot be understated, given the fact that seminaries were sticking to their guns primarily to stave off any and all forms of governmental influence. Now that this agreement has been reached, more can follow.

Spiritual and religious education is important, but sidelining real world subjects that are necessary for the students to function in society and even earn livelihoods should obviously take precedence, especially when we realise that religious education of Islam starts from the day a child is born, and continues in the home for the rest of their lives. Temporal education enjoys no such benefit.

If this accord pans out the right way, then it will go a long way in allowing for madressah students to receive mainstream education, enabling them to compete professionally in the job market. The result of years of study will finally bear fruit, as the years spent will determine what level of formal education the student has achieved. Currently, the students or religious education can only serve one calling; to themselves become teachers of religious education because they do not possess the skills to do much else. Over 3.5 million are receiving religious education in madressahs across the country, so it is high time this measure was implemented.

However, even with this mainstreaming accord in place, there is more to be done if the government is to follow the National Action Plan in letter and spirit, and ensure that children do not get brainwashed with extremist thought in madressahs around the country. The purpose of this accord is to include education and formalise a curriculum, but has any move been made to have a standardised religious curriculum as well, one that is tolerant and rejects terrorism?

The government has achieved two major milestones in the reformation of madressahs; the registration of all seminaries and now the curriculum reformation. But the last step, which may prove to be the toughest, but is also the most important, is to monitor the content or religious education that is being imparted at these seminaries. If the clerics of all mosques in the country were made to acquiesce the ban on hate speech using loud speakers at Friday sermons, this should be treated no differently. Pass this accord in parliament, and then get to rooting out the real problem.