"Every major movement in world history has recognized the strategic importance of mobilizing children. The Nazis had their Hitler Youth bands. The Chinese Communists had their Red Guards. The Taliban in Afghanistan had their madrash schools to instillextremismin the young.”

―Wess Stafford, Too Small to Ignore: Why Children Are the Next Big Thing, 2005.

 

Madaris have been the focus of Western media in general and the intelligentsia’s attention in particular since the last over three decades. This focus has intensified after 9/11. Madaris are now openly linked to terrorism and reforms are thus demanded as the only viable option if these institutions are there to stay. Pakistan government has prior to 9/11 been engaged in reforms but the outcome has never been encouraging. On the other hand, the religious institutions eye government measures with suspicion terming the measures as western onslaught on Muslim culture and civilization, and the government of Pakistan as a Western puppet. The government of Pakistan’s reform efforts has been mediocre at best and there is still a lot of resistance from religious parties and institutions to streamline the madrassahs and ensure that they are not creating sectarian biases and breeding intolerance. The Government must take a stronger stance against the opposition if it hopes to root out extremist elements from the country.