THE relationship between the PTI and the late Maulana Samiul Haq’s party is not new. 

While the ruling party may have initially been drawn to the murdered cleric’s JUI-S due to the mutual animus between the PTI and the JUI-F, the KP government appears to be constant in its support for Darul Uloom Haqqania, the controversial seminary located in Nowshera and known as ‘jihad university’. 

This sobriquet is, of course, well earned, as the madressah has been churning out fighters since the days of the Afghan jihad, while it counts members of the Afghan Taliban amongst its alumni. 

As reported in this paper on Wednesday, the KP government has diverted Rs30m meant for higher secondary schools and given them to the Haqqania madressah. This would be the third time the KP administration has showered its munificence on the seminary; in the 2016-17 budget, it had allocated a whopping Rs300m, while in February, Rs277m were reportedly allocated to the Haqqania madressah.

It is not clear if contributing funds to seminaries — that too have courted a fair bit of controversy over the years — is part of the PTI’s naya Pakistan vision. 

By all means, madressahs need to be mainstreamed, so that their alumni can contribute to the national economy along with studying religious subjects. 

However, mainstreaming must be done across the board, and state largesse must not be limited to handpicked seminaries, that too with political considerations underlying the generosity. 

More importantly, funds should not be diverted from the education department at the cost of mainstream schools. 

The PTI should realise that these are public funds and not those of the party; therefore, it needs to explain to taxpayers why money meant for secondary schools is ending up subsidising a madressah. 

Furthermore, when the prime minister has hinted that he wants to take Pakistan in a more tolerant direction, is giving funds to a madressah with such a hard-core reputation the best way to go about it?

Published in Dawn, April 11th, 2019