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Pakistan Karachi Madrasas and Violent Extremism 2007 Crisis Group

Pakistan Karachi Madrasas and Violent Extremism 2007 Crisis Group

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Published by Aamir Mughal

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Published by: Aamir Mughal on Sep 06, 2012
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09/17/2013

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PAKISTAN: KARACHI’S MADRASAS AND VIOLENT EXTREMISM 
Asia Report N°130 – 29 March 2007 
 
 
TABLE OF CONTENTS EXECUTIVE SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS.................................................iI.
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APPENDICES
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M
AP OF
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AKISTAN
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B.
 
K
ARACHI
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D
EOBANDI
M
ADRASAS
.....................................................................................24
C.
 
G
LOSSARY OF
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CRONYMS AND
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ERMS
...............................................................................25
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A
BOUT THE
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NTERNATIONAL
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RISIS
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ROUP
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C
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EPORTS AND
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RIEFINGS ON ASIA
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F.
 
C
RISIS
G
ROUP
B
OARD OF
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RUSTEES
...................................................................................30
 
 
Asia Report N°130 29 March 2007 
PAKISTAN: KARACHI’S MADRASAS AND VIOLENT EXTREMISMEXECUTIVE SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS
More than five years after President Pervez Musharraf declared his intention to crack down on violent sectarianand jihadi groups and to regulate the network of madrasas(religious schools) on which they depend, his government’sreform program is in shambles. Banned sectarian and jihadi groups, supported by networks of mosques andmadrasas, continue to operate openly in Pakistan’s largestcity, Karachi, and elsewhere. The international communityneeds to press President Musharraf to fulfil hiscommitments, in particular to enforce genuine controlson the madrasas and allow free and fair national electionsin 2007. It should also shift the focus of its donor aid fromhelping the government’s ineffectual efforts to reformthe religious schools to improving the very weak publicschool sector.Karachi’s madrasas, which have trained and dispatched jihadi fighters to Afghanistan and Indian-administeredKashmir, offer a valuable case study of governmentfailures and consequences for internal stability andregional and international security. In 2006, the city wasrocked by high-profile acts of political violence. In threeseparate attacks, suicide bombers killed a U.S. diplomat,assassinated the head of the most prominent Shia politicalgroup and wiped out the entire leadership of a Sunnimilitant group locked in a struggle for control overmosques with its Sunni rivals.Not all madrasas in the city are active centres of jihadimilitancy but even those without direct links to violencepromote an ideology that provides religious justificationfor such attacks. Exploiting Karachi’s rapid, unplannedand unregulated urbanisation and its masses of young,disaffected and impoverished citizens, the madrasa sectorhas grown at an explosive rate over the past two decades.Given the government’s half-hearted reform efforts, theseunregulated madrasas contribute to Karachi’s climateof lawlessness in numerous ways – from illegal landencroachment and criminality to violent clashes betweenrival militant groups and use of the pulpit to spread callsfor sectarian and jihadi violence.The Pakistan government has yet to take any of theoverdue and necessary steps to control religiousextremism in Karachi and the rest of the country.Musharraf’s periodic declarations of tough action, givenin response to international events and pressure, areinvariably followed by retreat. Primarily responsible forthe half-hearted efforts is his dependence on the religiousright, particularly his coalition partner in the Balochistangovernment, the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI), which runsthe largest network of Deobandi madrasas. He needsthese allies to counter his civilian opposition, the PakistanPeople’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), which dominated politics during thedemocratic interlude of the 1990s.Plans are announced with much fanfare and thenabandoned. As a result, madrasas remain eitherunregistered or registered under laws that have no effectiveimplementation. The sectarian, jihadi content of the madrasacurriculum is untouched, and there is no meaningful controlover money flows into and through madrasas and otherreligious institutions. The absence of a single agency,under parliamentary control and with the requisite authorityto regulate the madrasa sector, has empowered opponentsof reform. Powers are scattered among multiple ministriesand levels of government. Attempts to “mainstream”madrasa curricula through introduction of a range of non-religious classes have also proved futile, withmost madrasas refusing to cooperate with very modestgovernment reforms. In any case, the introduction of secular courses would only be of slight value unlessthere were also deep changes in the religious curriculumto end the promotion of violent sectarianism and jihad.Government efforts, and donors’ money, should insteadgo towards increased support and reform of the publicschool system, including removal of the sectarian, pro- jihad, and anti-minority portions of its curriculum.Donors must monitor the reform of that public schoolcurriculum closely and make sure that it is implementedwith the requisite long-term commitment.Exploiting the military government’s weakness, thereligious parties and madrasa unions have countered allattempts to regulate the madrasa sector. By backtracking,the government has further emboldened sectarian andextremist forces, resulting in a significant contributionto the violence that plagues Karachi and indeed the rest

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