Stop the presses. By Ed Johnson for Bloomberg:
March 30 (Bloomberg) — President Pervez Musharraf has failed to tackle Islamic extremism in Pakistan’s religious schools, which continue to promote a holy war against the West and foment terrorism, the International Crisis Group said.
Five years after the government pledged a crackdown on the schools, known as madrassas, many still preach a violent ideology and train and dispatch fighters to Afghanistan and Indian-administered Kashmir, the Brussels-based advocacy group, which aims to resolve conflicts, said in a report yesterday.
“The Pakistani government has yet to take any of the overdue and necessary steps to control religious extremism,” the group said. “Musharraf’s periodic declarations of tough action, given in response to international events and pressure, are invariably followed by retreat.”
The ICG said the government’s “reform program is in shambles” and that banned extremist groups continue to operate openly in Pakistan, particularly in the port city of Karachi.
The group called on the government to introduce a law that “bars jihadi and violent sectarian teachings” in madrassas and close schools that fail to comply. Many madrassas remain unregistered and government attempts to introduce non-religious classes have been futile, according to the report.
A law that “bars jihadi and violent sectarian teachings” is highly unlikely, as Islamic teachings on jihad are part of the standard Pakistani curriculum, and are not at all limited to the notion of an “inner spiritual struggle.”
The group recommended the government establish financial controls on the schools, to establish where they receive funding. Students should also be registered, the group said. Certificates issued by the schools shouldn’t be treated as the equivalent of university degrees to encourage participation in mainstream education, it added.