The news that some religious leaders are against the closure or registration of seminaries did not come as any shock to me. We must understand that Pakistan is not a welfare state and has no Islamic laws in practise, so all religious leaders or scholars and ulema have no regular income from the state. In such circumstances they depend on the largesse of the common man, or on foreign interests, to garner a living. The rise in terrorism is closely linked to the growth of seminaries in Pakistan, said to be funded by KSA and Iran, each supporting different Islamic sects.

We have a penchant for arguments: we see analytical TV shows every day in which various topics are bisected and discussed to death, and yet they all leave so many questions never asked and never answered. I would like to ask the religious leaders who are in favour of these seminaries: what is taught in these seminaries? Are the children taught the Quran and made hafiz, there? If so why would we need 20 million huffaaz-e-Quran? Will they add any value to the society or to the economy? Are they prepared, in any way, to become earning members of society? Do all the children who enter these seminaries have the calling to become religious?

Even the most religious of leaders or teachers know the worth of money and the importance of earning, then why don’t they teach our children, coming from destitute backgrounds, skills that would help them get financial stability? Are these madarassas, which provide free lodging and food, only there to gather millions to be used by religious leaders for their own ends and means? Or are the students there taught and guided by kind teachers to become better human beings? How can a person with no skill or education become an economically independent human who is not a burden on society?

The honest truth is that we do not need millions of huffaaz-e-Quran, we need millions of educated or skilled children who can earn an honest living and not become criminals or suicide bombers or killers, but honest workers. I wish some of the so-called religious leaders would ask the government to make the distribution of zakat transparent, and to turn Pakistan into a welfare state where the ill, the orphaned and the widowed are taken care of by the state. I don’t see any religious leader standing against cruel and corrupt politicians, but I do see them standing with them for personal gain – to destroy the country, hand-in-hand, in their own peculiar ways.