The Punjab government has decided to regulate religious seminaries that are operating in the province. The provincial government is to bring all religious schools under one department. However, it is yet to be decided whether the proposed directorate or Auqaf department will look after the affairs of these seminaries.

However, the Punjab government deserves the credit for making a bold decision regarding registration of these religious schools. There is no denying the fact that a lot of these religious schools serve as nurseries of intolerance, sectarian hate, and religious extremism. Many impart orthodox education based on centuries old syllabus called Dars-i-Nizami and there is no oversight or control over the actual content being disseminated.

Nonetheless, it must be noted that whenever a suggestion to modernise these institutions is made, the administrators of these seminaries completely shut off, or have a potentially violent adverse reaction. Those who run the affairs of these schools are disinclined to any slight change in the contents of the syllabus thus bringing them to an open conflict with the modern education system and western culture. The Madaris have been divided on the basis of religious sects ie Shia, Sunni and Ahl-i-Hadith. But their adherence to primitive education, Jihad and abhorrence for the western civilisation is almost the same.

The step taken by Punjab to bring religious schools under government control can be seen as a move to reform them. However, the change will need to focus on three different aspects of the madaris: The financing, the curriculum, and the state’s authority over the institutions. For permanent reformation to occur, the Pakistani government will need to implement policies that will demilitarise the madaris. All these steps taken together will bring real and positive change in the culture of madrasas. One last thing that the Punjab government needs to do is to come up with a proper legislation related to registration of religious institutions.

All other provinces should follow suit, as these institutions need to be scrutinised for transparency and authenticity of their syllabi. It is imperative to understand that the war on terrorism cannot be won until religious seminaries are monitored effectively. Also, the need of the hour for the Pakistani state is to not rely on such institutions for its narrow geo-strategic interests. The state and establishment should learn from their past mistakes. Turning a blind eye to their activities have already ruptured the fabric of Pakistani society.