The ongoing debate over reform for religious seminaries in Pakistan has led to a splurge of criticism from Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman of the JUI-F, which, devoid of any real analysis, reads like the enraged musings of a glorified playground bully. Emphasizing the sanctity of religious institutions and seminaries, the JUI-F chief warned the government against interfering in matters outside of their jurisdiction, namely, God, Islam, religious education et al. The National Security Policy document, which was cause for much of his concern, entails clear references to dubious foreign funding for madrassas. It also mentions that several seminaries are involved in the indoctrinating of youths with a hate-filled, absolutist ideology which finds deep root in violent terrorist activities. And this is no unsubstantiated claim. Overwhelming evidence exists which justifies the call for government intervention. Why would anyone, religious or not, stand in the way of such a blatant national security threat? It would appear the preachers of the “absolute truth” are choosing to ignore a few clear pieces of absolute evidence as they indulge in the defensive politics of propaganda.

Mr. Fazl-ur-Rehman Khalil of the Wafaq-ul-Madaris expressed similar reservations during a talk show last night. JUI-S Chief and member of the Taliban negotiations committee, Maulana Sami-ul-Haq, vowed to ‘defend’ religious seminaries, and declared that all efforts by the government will be resisted. He went a step further by issuing a warning that a bloody civil war would ensue if any attempts were otherwise made. The ‘ulemas’, or to put it into context, the owners and organisers of the seminaries under question have united. They all claim that the madaris are only part of a welfare network, and have nothing to do with terrorism. Typically they go on to imply their consistent support for Taliban ideology and activity, and refute all accusations with verbal attacks on the US. Of course, offense is the best defense, and by shifting the debate, they usually succeed in shifting both blame and context.

When was the last time a peaceful, “welfare” organisation threatened violence in response to legitimate calls for reform? If they are as clean as crystal as they claim, why do these people oppose scrutiny? Such paranoia is akin to the admission of guilt. The time for hypocrisy has long passed. It is not the wrath of God which is upon us, but the wrath of men. And men can always be defeated.