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08/01/2005 PAKISTAN

Islamic parties against expulsion of foreign madrassa students

Opposition is developing to Musharraf's decision to repatriate foreigners studying at Pakistani religious schools.

Islamabad (AsiaNews) – Opposition by Islamic extremists to Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's decision to send foreign madrassa students packing is growing. Altogether, the expulsion order should touch 1,400 students attending Pakistani madrassas.

The President said that "[a]ll foreigners are to be removed from Pakistan's more than 10,000 religious schools." He added that that no new visas would be issued to non-Pakistanis wishing to study in Pakistani religious schools. The ban will also apply to holders of dual nationality.

"An ordinance to this effect will be adopted in the coming days as part of new rules requiring all seminaries to register with the government by the end of the year," he said.

The president, who has outlawed ten extremist groups, said the police have been ordered to arrest their leaders.

"The raids are not aimed at rounding up large numbers of people, but to catch the leaders of the radical Islamic underground," he said.

At the same time, he said that Pakistan's strategic assets were safe and secure and in no danger of falling into the wrong hands.

The President, who pledged to enforce a ban on anti-Western hate speech coming from mosque's loudspeakers or radio, also stressed that "Pakistan will never be governed or ruled by extremists."

The latest crackdown comes in the wake of revelation that three of the four July 7 London bombers were of Pakistani origin, with at least two of them, visiting Pakistan a few months before the attack.

The Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA), an alliance of six opposition Islamic parties, criticised Musharraf's decision to expel foreign madrassa students.

The alliance's chairman, Qazi Ussain Ahmed, and its general secretary, Hafiz Hussain Ahmed, called the decision a disaster for the country's image and economy.

"Resentment is boiling in the madrassas. We shall discuss it during the Tahafuz-i-deeni madaris convention scheduled for August," Qazi Hussain Ahmed said.

He added that the ban on foreign students—some of whom come from the United States, the United Kingdom, Africa and South Africa—was something odd since they are a source of foreign exchange.

MMA chairman Hafiz Hussain Ahmed went further and called Musharraf's measure "a dictatorial decree by one individual". I will, he fears, have far reaching repercussions and constitutes a violation of fundamental human rights and of the prerogatives of parliament.

Expelling foreign students without proof of their guilt was a great injustice, Ahmad said.

He warned that legal recourse against the government action will be considered.

However, the issue is not entirely clear. For instance, Pakistan's Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao said on Sunday that foreign students' visas would be cancelled only after proper review.

Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, chairman of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League, said instead that no action would be taken against madrassa students in Pakistan and foreign students would not be deported.

"I will meet the President and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and will ask them to allow foreign students to complete their education in Pakistan," he said.

On 29 July, the Senate Standing Committee on Education urged the Education Ministry to expedite madrassa reform and collect data on registration in religious institutions.

Committee members stressed that it was more urgent than ever to turn madrassas into a modern education system that would give students the means to face modern life and offer the world a more moderate image of Pakistan.

The Education Ministry informed the Committee that up-to-date data on the numbers for religious schools and students were still unavailable. It did however estimate the number of educational facilities at around 10,000, 3,000 of which are registered with the authorities.






See also

28/07/2005 PAKISTAN
In seven days 600 Islamic fundamentalists rounded up
Many of them are thought involved in the growing sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shiites.

22/07/2005 PAKISTAN
Pakistan calls for a 'jihad' against Islamic fundamentalism
President Musharraf urges the nation to go on a 'holy war' against the terrorists and justifies cracking down on madrassas. Islamic parties protest on Friday in the name of religious freedom.

04/07/2007 PAKISTAN
Lal Masjid: the mosque that wants to talebanise the country (overview)
It abducts and intimidates; it has even set up its own Sharia court independent of the country’s judiciary; since January Islamabad’s ‘Red Mosque’ is tying down General Musharraf’s government.

30/07/2009 PAKISTAN
Hearing into President Musharraf’s conduct could lead to his incrimination
Musharraf has to explain why he imposed a state of emergency in 2007, but he did not appear before the court. Hearing was chaired by one of his adversary, Justice Chaudhry. Experts note the great confusion in the country’s institutions and the danger of military ascendancy, especially since they do not seem to oppose the Afghan Taliban.

06/11/2007 PAKISTAN
Judge Chaudhry calls for a popular “uprising”
Sacked Chief justice calls on Pakistanis to take to the streets in protest. Despite the crackdown demonstrations against the state of emergency continue. About one lawyer in four has been placed under arrest. Government makes vague pledges about the upcoming scheduled parliamentary elections. United states calls on Musharraf to quit as army chief. Minorities warn that by his actions the president is weakening the moderates and strengthening the extremists.


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