Wednesday, May 21, 2008

** Pak leader on madarsas
Pak leader links terror to madarsas

New Delhi, June 1: A politician whose party is a partner in Pakistan’s ruling coalition today surprised a conference on terrorism here by declaring that madarsas in his country were “breeding grounds” of terror.

Hasham Baber, additional secretary-general of the Awami National Party, said political sermons, not just lectures on Islam, were delivered in such institutions in the federally administered tribal areas, bordering Afghanistan.

“The breeding grounds should be removed because on Fridays, it isn’t Islam that is taught but political sermons. Both Afghanistan and India will benefit,” he told the conference organised by Jama Masjid United Forum. The Speaker of Afghanistan’s senate, Safghadullah Mojaddedi, was also present.

Most reacted cautiously to the comments. The Jama Masjid’s imam, Syed Ahmed Bukhari, made it clear that Baber had only expressed his “own views” about affairs in Pakistan.

Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi disagreed with Baber, saying madarsas in his state weren’t teaching terror.

Social activist Teesta Setalvad spoke of the threat from “Right-wing Hindu schools in tribal areas” and about the kind of “mob terrorism” seen during the Gujarat riots.

Teesta Setalvad @