ISLAMABAD - Five major madrassa representative organisations of the country on Saturday agreed with the government for action against religious seminaries having links with militant activities, perhaps for the first time since Pakistan started war against terrorism.

The representatives also agreed for easy registration of madrassas and introducing new curriculum as part of reforms in coordination with the government.

The agreement was reached in a review meeting of National Action Plan (NAP) on Counter Terrorism chaired by Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and attended by all five major representative organisations of seminaries. A joint declaration was issued after the meeting.

The minister addressing a press conference later said that two separate meetings held with madrassas and media representatives witnessed a historic unanimity to implement the NAP and to fight against terrorism.

He said that all political parties were also on the same page for the implementation of NAP except two which had reservations only on 21st Amendment. About his meeting with media representatives, he said that sanctions would not be imposed on media.

“All representatives of madrassas have agreed to cooperate with the government to counter terrorism and support NAP in categorical terms,” he said. “All have (also) agreed to identify terrorists in close liaison with the government,” Nisar said.

He said that seminaries representatives agreed in the meeting that if the government got any proof against a madrassa of involvement in terrorism, action should be taken against it and they would facilitate the government in this regard.

The joint declaration says that all the religious scholars from different schools of thought declared in one voice that suicide attacks were forbidden in Islam. They also said that any struggle against the state of Pakistan was un-Islamic as well as forbidden, and fatwas (religious decrees) had already been issued in this regard.

“It was unanimously agreed that indiscriminate action would taken against any organisation or person involved in terrorist activities according to the law of the land.” It said s committee was formed comprising representatives of relevant federal and provincial departments/organisations and Ittehad-e-Tanzeemat-e-Madaris Pakistan that will unanimously prepare a form for the easy registration of madrassas and registration would be carried out after that.

The religious seminaries would be bound to present their audit reports of accounts and their representatives agreed that madrassas would get foreign funding only through government and a mechanism would be devised for it. The religious scholars stressed that legislation regarding religious seminaries would be made after consultations with Ittehad-e-Tanzeemat-e-Madaris (ITM). The meeting agreed that services of scholars should be sought to ideologically prepare the people against terrorism, besides the use of force to end terrorism.

It was decided in the meeting that a committee comprising representatives of federal education ministry, religious affairs ministry, provincial governments and the ITM would be formed that would give recommendations to reform curriculum of religious seminaries. The representatives of seminaries however held that madrassa reform was already under way.

A suggestion came before the meeting that a religious scholar has written a book titled ‘Education, Peace and Islam’ which should be made part of curriculum of not only seminaries but also of other educational institutions. The leadership of religious seminaries also invited political parties, diplomats and people belonging to other walks of life to visit the seminaries to observe their system of education and curriculum.

Madrassa representatives demanded that instead of banning publishing of some religious books, the draft of the books should be got examined and then allowed to be published while the existing books should be reviewed. It was agreed that religious scholars in their speeches should clearly convey the message of peace given by Islam and also inform the nation about the agreement reached with the government. It was decided that a mechanism at institutional level would be devised for a permanent contact between government, political leadership and religious scholars so that joint efforts against terrorism could be continued.

The meeting unanimously condemned the Peshawar incident and agreed that all religious and political parties should continue their struggle to end terrorism. The participants of the meeting through a resolution condemned the French magazine for publishing the blasphemous caricatures of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and stressed that legislation should be introduced at international level to give respect to teachings of all religions and all prophets. They also appreciated Pope for condemning the act of the French magazine and asked masses that protests should be peaceful.

Those who attended the meeting included Religious Affairs Minister Sardar Yousaf, State Minister for Religious Affairs Peer Aminul Hasnat Shah, special assistant to PM Khawaja Zaheer and Barrister Zafarullah Khan. Representatives of different political parties who were part of the finalisation of NAP and other government officials were also present.

Responding to questions in his press talk, Ch Nisar said government had protected well its interests during John Kerry’s visit to Pakistan and had also talked in clear words about issues with India, including investigation of Samjohta Express and violation of ceasefire on the Working Boundary. “The US was told about the speeches of national security adviser of India,” he said.

Nisar said that an audit of $230 funds would be launched that civilian government received from the US as aid to end terrorism. He refused to give answer about the banning of Haqqani group by the government. About shortage of patrol, he admitted the government was responsible for this crisis.

The interior minister held a second meeting with the representative of media including Pakistan Broad Casters Association (PBA), Council of Pakistan Newspapers Editors (CPNE), All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) and Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ). Information Minister Pervez Rasheed, special assistants to PM Barrister Zafarullah Khan, Khawaja Zaheer and MNA Marvi Memon also attended the meeting.

A committee was formed for permanent coordination with the media which would be headed by information minister and include State Minister for Interior Baleegur Rehman and special assistant to PM Irfan Sifddiqui. Media representatives formed a separate committee comprising officials from all the four representative organisations.