The Lal Masjid and its adjacent Jamia Hafsa seminary are back in the limelight for all the wrong reasons; refusing to condemn the Peshawar attack, issuing threats of suicide bombings, releasing a video praising the Islamic State, and a row involving girls being held against their will in the seminary. While the military and the government go around heralding a new dawn, where terrorists will be uprooted from all corners of the nation, the existence of a bastion of extremism in the heart of the capital, make those proud claims ring hollow. Maulana Abdul Aziz’s time has come; the pressure on the government is mounting, spearheaded by fearless civilians and given steam by the seminary’s own twisted pronouncements. The government is showing signs of being cajoled into action, and rightly so; no longer must such poison be allowed to contaminate the nation.

Yet Lal Masijd or Jamia Hafsa aren’t unique in what they preach, they are the only ones who gained prominence due to their ‘vigilantism’ in the capital, and the subsequent military operation. The truth is that there are thousands of other mosques and madrassas that are much worse – they are linked with banned outfits, actively participate in training militants, spew extremism and brainwash their subjects. A fact the Interior Minister accepts when he says, “Only 10% of madrassas are linked with terrorism’. It has become quite clear that reforming the Madrassa system has become the need of the hour. This vast network cannot be allowed to exist without state oversight into their curriculum and practices. Young student, beholden to the seminary since it provides them food and shelter, are radicalised en mass, tucked away from the eyes of the world behind high walls. Notions of freedom of religion combined with a conservative society means that these institutes are never questioned – and are run like the personal fiefdoms of their respective clerics.

What about the 90% that Choudary Nisar considers safe? Should we let a few radical institutes define our actions for the majority of seminaries which just teach Islam? While this narrative will be pushed by the JUI-F and the JI, pandering to their vote banks, it is time to scrutinise such easy - and frankly, lazy - conclusions. While this 90% doesn’t directly contribute to terrorism, it does create a conducive environment for it. The students that graduate from these institutes, about 200,000 a year, have only ever been educated in religion. They have no marketable talents, little experience of the outside world, and the only social setting they feel comfortable in is the only one they have known; composed of segregated, zealous acolytes. They inevitably fail in the outside world and return to this one track world, where advancement is limited and interaction with terrorists highly probable.