Powell with Pakistan’s Musharraf
Contradicting statements by Pakistani Information Minister Rashid Ahmed, Colin Powell has (again) identified Pakistan’s Islamic schools as breeding grounds for jihadists. From the Press Trust of India, :
Pulling no punches, US Secretary of State Colin Powell has denounced madrassas or schools imparting religious education in Pakistan and several other countries as breeding grounds for “fundamentalists and terrorists.”
He said the US had held several discussions on the issue with the countries concerned and was in the process of introducing education programmes which would shift the focus of these madrassas to providing useful education.
“… We have talked to those countries that were the principal sources of funding for the madrassas such as Saudi Arabia and others and their support for these madrassa programmes that do nothing but prepare youngsters to be fundamentalists and to be terrorists, and are not preparing them with an education that would be useful,” Powell said.
He was responding to Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur statement in the House Appropriations Subcommittee that unless education of the future is imparted in these madrassas, to which young people are drawn because of food aid, they would result in multiple clonings of militants throughout the region.
The US is working with Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf and other countries on the issue and trying to put in place programmes to shift the focus of these madrassas to providing an education that is useful, Powell said.
“But we also have to understand that a lot of these reflect the view of the community, the desire of the community to have such places. We can’t substitute for all of the feeding programmes of all of these madrassas throughout the Muslim world. Nor would we know how to do it if we had the resources to do,” Powell said.