Pakistan has no reliable data on number of seminaries

Islamabad, Pakistan - Pakistan's Religious Affairs Ministry has told a National Assembly Standing Committee here that it does not possess reliable data on the exact numbers of seminaries existing across the country.

According to ministry officials,10,482 seminaries have so far been registered throughout Pakistan.

Defending their inability to provide exact statistics, the officials said that the prevalence of two parallel systems of education in Pakistan - general education and religious education – and the wide gulf between them, prevented them from completing an accurate exercise.

The ministry officials said the Pakistan Madrassah Education Board was established under an ordinance in 2001 to bridge the gulf between the formal education and seminary system. They said the government is planning to introduce a law to regulate the activities and functioning of madrassas and providing for their registration.

Meanwhile, the government in Pakistan's Punjab province has issued directives to authorities in 10 districts to monitor 33 religious seminaries following reports that these institutions were involved in sectarian activities.

According to informed sources, these seminaries were in Lahore, Faisalabad, Sheikhupura, Gujranwala, Khanewal, Sahiwal, Bahawalnagar, Jhelum, Rawalpindi and Attock.

District police officers have been directed to warn the administration of these seminaries to refrain from sectarian activities, and act against them if they were found involved in such activities.