Measuring Indigenous change in Madrassahs
The Madrassahs have been in existence for centuries in the Islamic world. In Pakistan, Madrassahs form a significant part of our social setup. According to different estimates, the number of these institutions has multiplied over the period of time and today there are thousands of registered and unregistered Madrassahs in Pakistan as compared to only few hundreds at the time of independence. The Madrassahs can be considered as the carriers of traditional knowledge. However unfortunately, after 9/11, few of these Madrassahs suddenly crept out of age-old obscurity. There is no denying the fact that Madrassahs received undue curiosity and attention. However, most of contemporary political scholars are not aware of the fact that in the initial days of Islam, the aim of Madrassahs was preservation and spread of knowledge – a role that has somehow lost its efficacy over a long period of time. The incident of 9/11 has changed the complexion of few Madrassahs belonging to hard-line streams of Ideology. These Madrassahs have ever since been accused of spreading sectarian hatred and extremism leading to terrorism. However, fact remains that after 9/11, in the context of global war on terror, these Madrassahs became centre of attention in Pakistan as well.
With this new perception, an internal debate to bring reforms in Madrassahs has also been started. A reform process was launched in President Musharraf’s era that was continued by successor governments. Madrassah reforms is a sensitive issue in Pakistan and despite efforts by successive governments, one could not see much success due to resistance by Madrassah regimes, which consider themselves as autonomous (self-financed on alms and charity) and not liable to any governmental intervention. The quest for reforms in Madrassahs has come from various quarters and has been stimulated for different considerations. Government of Pakistan intends to reform these Madrassahs so that their graduates no longer get inspired by a passion for extremism nor are they inclined to militancy. Madrassah reforms were taken up as a key agenda item of National Action Plan 2014, which was adopted by the government after the deadly Army Public School attack in Peshawar in December 2014. Beside government efforts, there is also a desire for change, coming from within most mainstream and moderate Madrassahs which is a welcome sign. They also want to stay relevant in a fast transforming world. However, due to various reasons, Madrassahs are adopting selective changes, suitable to their own interests. Mapping and analyzing these mostly indigenous changes has revealed areas which can be exploited to implement large-scale reforms. In order to properly study different aspects of indigenous change realization in Madrassahs and different factors involved as well as their level of influence in triggering the change, this field research has been got conducted by NACTA through Pakistan Institute of Conflict and Security Studies (PICSS).
Terror Financing in Pakistan
Choking the finances of terrorist elements has long been recognized in Pakistan as an essential step in countering terrorism. The National Action Plan, 2014, signed at an All Parties Conference, highlighted the importance of this step as the sixth point of the Plan and called for choking financing of terrorist and terrorist organisations. Prior to this, several laws were addressing the financing of terrorist outfits including the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997 and the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2010, but there was no coordinated strategy.
Terrorist outfits in Pakistan can collect funds through a number of sources, including criminal means, charitable donations, legitimate businesses, animal hides and philanthropic organisations. After 9/11, restrictions on terrorist and militant outfits have increased, resulting in these groups adopting different nom de guerres to escape censure, and diversifying their operations. The most popular method of diversification has been to open a charity or social welfare arm, which serves the dual purpose of building good will among citizens and collection of funds in the name of charity. Curtailing terrorist financing is further complicated by the fact that Pakistan is a primarily cash-based economy, and only 15% of the population has access to the formal banking sector. Moreover, informal value transfer systems such as hawala have historically thrived in the region and continue to do so. Hawala provides the opportunity for groups and individuals to move money without the fear of detection within the formal economy.
Pakistan’s efforts to combat terror financing have mostly focused on the formal banking economy. While the laws and regulations exist to enable suspicious funds earmarked for purposes of terrorism to be identified and frozen, the application of these laws to the informal cash and hawala flows has been delayed for want of a comprehensive implementation strategy. Nonetheless, the State Bank of Pakistan’s Financial Monitoring Unit, and Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) have increasingly made concerted efforts to combat the financing of terrorism.