This 16th of December marked the completion of four years to the tragic incident of APS Peshawar attack. Ceremonies were held and tributes were payed to the martyrs of APS Peshawar yet the burning question is still unanswered. How Pakistan is more secure today than 2014?

Akif Azeem (a survivor of APS Peshawar attack, who saved 37 lives during the carnage) spoke at Superior University Lahore a week ago where he accentuated the need of implementing all points of NAP with its true spirit. Truthfully, there still are few clauses in the 20 points of NAP that still await their implementation.

One of them is the registration and regulation of madrassas (Point 10 of NAP). It has been a dilemma in Pakistan from Ministry of Foreign Affairs that policies are formulated once damage is done. In past, many madrassas emerged into niche for hard-liner Muslims and state turned a blind eye to the up-rising of radical mindset. Resultantly, the madrassas once an intellectual space that emboldened critical discussion, now turned into hotbeds of radical ideas and ferocious actions. The effects of this mindset have paved way in the society and we see the repercussions of this mindset in the case of lynching of Mashal Khan and post Asia Bibi verdict.

We have been putting the blame on Zia-ul-Haq for his self-centered and short-sighted Islamization in 80’s. To a greater extent, this is genuinely true. But why haven’t we come out of Zia’s policies despite four decades have been passed? Why we see today the extension of his policies in state priorities? If a radical mindset still looms large in the society, the state and its policies are seriously question marked. Zia used religious card to sustain his span of rule. After him, the political landscape didn’t budge much because religious card has been played by those who needed it the most to display their presence in the system and society. After Zia, the regulation of madrassas were not taken seriously that resulted in their conversion to safe haven for radical mindset. Astonishingly, the exact figures of registered madrassas were not even available to the foreign office until early 2015. Even the clear breakdown (in terms of numbers) of male and female madrassas are not even authentic by now.

Another important aspect is that the state has miserably failed in all those years to up-lift the standard and quality of curriculum taught in madrassas. Elected governments never pondered to re-vamp the obsolete curriculum and its implications. Laptops and exchange programmes worth millions of rupees were awarded to youth studying in colleges and universities but no rational policy and perks were designed for students of madrassas. This bifurcation of governments’ policy is also one of the reasons that gave birth to a radical mindset.

In extension to above, religious parties assessed the situation carefully and took advantage of the loop holes in the state policies. For the sake of political gains, religious parties developed a curriculum that could snub the creative and intellectual capacities of students. The check on the madrassa curriculum was frail. Annual reports of educational activities and accounts audit of madrassas were not scrutinized by concerned departments. Moreover, the manifesto of most of the religious political parties do not cater the needs of the students of their own madrassas. These parties never talked about reforms and regulation of madrassas. Instead, a specific literature has been instilling in the madrassa students that fomented hatred towards society as a whole.

The onus is on current government to implement this significant point of NAP. Without regulating madrassas and its curriculum, the aim of achieving peace and sustainability is just a bunch of wishes. The current government needs to improve the quality and standard of madrassas by bringing them in the loop of educational system. Technical and basic science education is to be make mandatory for students of madrassas. After technical and basic science education, the madrassa students can be incorporated in mainstream occupations. A special quota (like FATA and AJK) only then can be viable for them. The religious parties need to comprehend the need of science and technical education in madrassas. Those who donate ample funds, make sure the money be utilized on the students. There is a large pool of young voters in madrassas that vote for religious political parties and yet receive no cogent policy from them.

The country cannot endure the damage inflicted on religious basis anymore. Our past is teeming with such instances and incidents. The blood of APS Peshawar martyrs and Mashal Khan demands a more secure Pakistan than today and ever.