LAHORE - Premier secret services have traced illegal foreign funding to dozens of madaris in Punjab, besides identifying 2,000 unregistered seminaries in the province, it is learnt reliably.

Highly-placed sources in the state security apparatus fighting war against extremism told The Nation on Tuesday that the illegal funding lands in Pakistan bypassing the set procedure of permission of the Foreign Office.

At the same time, more than 100 religious seminaries are receiving funding in Punjab by following the procedure for getting the foreign monetary assistance to run the day-to-day affairs of their institutions.

They revealed that the illegal foreign funding to religious seminaries in Punjab either lands through ‘hawala or hundi, the illegal system of money transaction’ or through the bank accounts of facilitators or sympathisers of the extremists.

Security sources informed that some of the illegal foreign funding networks have been blown, while the facilitators and sympathisers involved in this game have been picked up. Some of the networks in this operation have not been touched so far in an effort to trace out their main handlers abroad.

When contacted, Punjab Home Minister Colonel (retd) Shuja Khanzada, in his first-ever admission by a representative of the provincial government, not only admitted that illegal foreign funding has been traced but also endorsed foreign funding to dozens of seminaries by following the set procedure in Punjab.

Sharing details, he revealed that foreign funding to seminaries, following the set procedure, is landing from Muslim states from Middle East, while the individuals of Muslim community across the globe are also sending funds by adopting the process.

However, some of the individuals from European states, Middle East, Far East and the United States have been sending illegal financial assistance to some of the seminaries. A thorough action is on the cards to deal with the seminaries involved.

He added that the sympathisers of the extremists abroad collect Zakat and charity from Muslims and then send these back home through illegal channels of transactions.

Confirming that illegal transactions land in Punjab through ‘hundi or hawala’ and using the bank accounts of the facilitators of the extremists to fuel the anarchy, he said, “I cannot share the details concerning the operational measures on this count at this stage,” he argued.

About the data of religious seminaries, the home minister informed there were 6,500 unregistered religious seminaries in Punjab of which 4,500 have been registered so far while the remaining are being registered. He added that provincial intelligence wings with the assistance of prime secret services as part of National Action Plan (NAP) are carrying out the registration process.

Colonel Shuja, unveiling an orientation programme for the Intelligence Bureau, Special Branch and other allied agencies fighting terror war, told this scribe that the mentioned agencies with the assistance of the State Bank would soon carry out an orientation programme of two weeks that would enable them trace the illegal funding to the seminaries.

He informed that complete database of the religious seminaries would be made of which one category comprises of the already registered seminaries, while the other consists of the newly-registered seminaries.

About coordination among the major military and civilian intelligence agencies, he insisted there is an excellent coordination among the ISI, IB, MI and other agencies in connection with pursuing the goals of National Action Plan.

TTP COMMANDER KILLED IN CLASH

Staff Reporter from Peshawar adds: A key TTP commander and financier was killed during an operation carried out by security forces in district Buner on Tuesday.

On tip-off information that a militant commander and financer Bakht Raj was hiding in the area, security forces launched operation in the outskirts of Bajkata town. In a briefed armed clash, Bakht Raj, the TTP commander was killed.

Security officials said that Bakht Raj, alias Asadullah was a financier and militant commander of TTP and was involved in terror activities in Karachi and Buner, official sources confirmed.

Belonging to the Shamnal village of Chagharzai area, Bakht Raj had escaped a previous military operation a few months back.