ISLAMABAD: Interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Monday categorically ruled out any link between seminaries and terrorism, instead, he said that these institutions have a vital role in confronting terrorist activities.
After a meeting with representatives of seminaries – Tanzim-e-Ittehadul Madaris – at PM’s secretariat in Islamabad, Nisar said that “All participants of the meeting condemned terrorism in strongest terms and vowed that political parties and religious scholars will work shoulder to shoulder to uproot terrorist activities.”
Nisar said that a consensus was reached that any individual or institution involved in terrorist activities will face due course of law of the land.
Further, the process of registration of seminaries will be simplified, an issue which has remained on the the backburner for several years, he maintained.
“Relevant federal and provincial authorities and the scholars’ body will work together under a committee – answerable to the secretary interior – to evolve a comprehensive registration forms aimed at gathering all the credentials,” he said.
He added that a time frame for this purpose will not exceed three months.
“Religious seminaries, in conformity with the law, will present information relating to their audit of their expenditure.”
Government will evolve a method for the seminaries to receive funds from domestic and international organisations, the interior minister said, adding that representatives of the the seminaries’ will also hold a meeting with the governor State Bank of Pakistan.
It was also agreed that the seminaries will carry out all transactions through banks, thus bringing it all in a legal and transparent ambit of law.
“The meeting largely accepted that defeating terrorism is not possible only by use of force but also through ideological means for which government will have cooperation of the scholars.”
The scholars also agreed to modernise curricula of seminaries.
Nisar said that as many as two committees will be formed to oversee the decisions taken in Monday’s meeting, adding that a meeting of chief ministers on September 10 will further finalise these measures.
The huddle took place after a standoff between the two over the State Bank of Pakistan’s directives for freezing more than 200 bank accounts linked to seminaries last week.
The discussion focused on issues such as registration of the seminaries, their source of funding and banks’ refusal to open fresh accounts of the seminaries said.
Besides the interior minister, secretary interior, minister of state for education Baleeghur Rehman and minister for religious affairs, Sardar Muhammad Yousuf represented the government.
Further, Dr. Syed Muhammad Najfi, Syed Niaz Hussain Naqvi, Dr Attaur Rehman, Yasin Zafar, Sahibzada Abdul Mustafa Hazarvi, Maulana Abdul Malik, Professor Sajid Mir, Mufti Muneebur Rehman, Maulana Muhammad Hafeez Jalhandri and Mufti Taqi Usmani attended the meeting.
Speaking to The Express Tribune prior to the meeting, Abid Qamar, chief spokesperson for SBP said, “Any individual, institution or organisation providing information as per the set criteria of the SBP can easily get their accounts opened. We have a fair and open policy about it.”
According to a senior officer of the interior ministry, around 211 suspicious accounts, mostly owned by individuals affiliated with seminaries, had been frozen across the country under the National Action Plan aimed at choking all possible means of funding for terrorism.
Further, banks refused fresh accounts for the seminaries until they entered a registration process under a new mechanism introduced by the ministry of religious affairs under the NAP.
A meeting of clerics last week with the minister for religious affairs Sardar Yousaf and senior officers of the provinces and interior ministry did not reach any conclusion, a source requesting anonymity had said.