Madrassa reforms remain ignored in Pakistan- despite vehement promises and plans by the government. They have failed to make any progress; even though it is an important point of the 20 point National Action Plan (NAP) on Counter Terrorism created after the deadly terrorist attack on Army Public School in Peshawar.

Even after 10 months of the announcement of NAP, the federal government has failed to start the process of registration of madrassas throughout the country, a basic point to introduce reforms in seminaries. According to rough figures collected by the Ministry of Interior, around 30 million students study in 18,000 madrassas in the country that are being run under Ittehad-e-Tanzeematul Madaris (ITM), a body of madrassas representing five major schools of thought.

Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan claims that a committee having representatives of ITM and the departments concerned had been formed to finalize a registration form of seminaries. As expected, there has been no progress on it. This was literally the first step to the whole process.

Although not all madrassas have fundamentalist curriculums or extremist agendas and some, if not most, some are actually doing good work. However, in the current security climate, they cannot go unchecked. Children in madrassas are often at risk of psychological, physical and sexual abuse. More troublingly, according to reports, a significant number of madrassas have become recruitment centers for terrorist organizations, breeding future militants through teachings based upon on distorted, fundamentalist Islamic views, and are funded by questionable sources. According to some estimates, there are some 35,000 madrassas operating in the country, yet there is no record of the registered and unregistered madrassas. In the current security situation, this level of ignorance cannot be afforded.

At present, the national de-radicalisation programme has been taking place, but there can be no improvement unless a change is implemented in madrassas. Religious bodies tend to be concerned about state intervention in seminaries, but it is definitely possible to monitor, regulate and, if needed, reform madrassas while avoiding governmental overkill. It is high time for the state to set up a regime that routinely monitors the staff, funding, financial dealings, curriculum and students enrolled at madrassas. For the long-run, Pakistan needs to have an education regulation system in place that keeps a close check on madrassas and also mainstream schools, both public and private.