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Pakistan's Sharif Consults Religious Scholars on Future of Madrassas

Pakistani children attend lessons at a madrassa, or a religious school, to learn Quran, in Karachi, Sept. 2, 2015.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif consulted with representatives from top religious seminaries Monday on reforms to be introduced in the religious schools’ curriculum, registration and funding process.

Reforming the religious seminaries is a part of Pakistan’s National Action Plan devised to counter extremism in the country following the Peshawar school massacre on December 16, 2014.

A statement issued by the prime minister's office after the meeting said Sharif expressed resolve to pursue the National Action Plan apart from politics and in the larger national interest.

But talking to VOA Deewa, Imtiaz Gul, a journalist and author on issues related to extremism, said the curriculum of the madrassas (Islamic schools) was the real problem and so far the government has not taken any concrete steps to address the issue.

“The government promised to reform the religious seminaries and change their registration procedures, but so far nothing seems to be done,” said Gul.

According to many analysts, madrassa curricula advocate the use of violence against the people of a different sect or religion. Islamic scholars deny this.

Sharif said scholars have pledged unconditional support to the National Action Plan and they were ready to extend any cooperation to the government in this regard.

Talking to VOA Urdu, Pakistani op-ed writer Kahlid Farooqi said this assurance needed to be translated into action.

“The consensus that has been reached is just a beginning, and has to be carried forward, and only then can we make a headway towards solution of the problem," he said.