ISLAMABAD - As the government wants to bring madrassa reforms in the country as part of National Action Plan (NAP) implementation, a deadlock-like situation still persists between the government and major representative bodies of madrassas over the mode of seminaries’ registration.

An official of interior ministry informed The Nation that the government has still to reach an agreement with Ittehad Tanzeemul Madaris (ITM) - a body representing five major Islamic schools of thought - over the proposed draft of perfoma meant for the registration of seminaries. “Representatives of ITM during a recent meeting, which was attended by the officials of ministries of religious affairs and interior, did not agree over the government proposed draft of registration form dubbing it dissimilar to the one agreed in the past,” the official said.

In 2005 then religious affairs minister Ijazul Haq and later on in 2010 interior minister of PPP regime Rehman Malik had inked two separate agreements with major madrassa bodies as part of reforms initiative. And a registration performa was also worked out with mutual consent of the government and madrassa bodies. However, these mutually agreed agreements could never be implemented.

The officer said that government wants to introduce new registration forms for religious seminaries but ITM disagreed saying the government should use previously agreed registration forms for the purpose. “We have sought input of provinces over the issue and told ITM that final decision would be taken following mutual consultation upon receipt of recommendations,” he said.

The government now wants to incorporate questions like complete funding details including source of income and expenditures to proposed registration form. Major madrassa bodies in previous agreements had agreed to conduct audit of accounts of madaris through independent auditor firms.

Another vexing issue between madaris bodies and the government is the admission of foreign national students, ITM has protested with the government over its “inappropriate” attitude over this issue. It conveyed to the government that if foreign students can enrol in other educational institutes then why not at religious seminaries. They have asked the government not to adopt strict policies that could compel foreign students to leave the country.

ITM has showed its willingness to adopt curriculum of federal government in seminaries on contemporary education in additional to religious education, but they have demanded the government give ITM the status of educational board with degree awarding status. But the government has yet to take decision on this issue.

The government in its recently announced National Action Plan on counter terrorism prepared after December 16 terrorism attack on Army Public School in Peshwar, had announced to bring madrassa reforms in the country.

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has announced time and again that more than 90 percent of madaris are not involved in militancy and action would be taken only against those if credible evidence was found of their involvement in terrorism.

However, after Dec 16 incident the federal government had asked the provinces to collect complete details of madaris. Punjab government launched a special drive through intelligence agencies to collect data about madaris in the province, while other provinces are also following the suit. The special branch of Punjab police is busy in collecting data of madaris including information about their school of thought, number of students including foreign nationals, funding, etc.