Islamabad: The Punjab government has taken administrative control of around 20 religious seminaries reportedly run by banned groups.
This comes as a follow up to the decision by the federal government in the wake of the Pulwama military escalation between Pakistan and India in February and March this year.
The majority of these seminaries operate in Lahore and Muridke, a town in the District Sheikhupura.
The provincial government has appointed administrators to look after the financial and administrative affairs of these religious schools, said a senior official of the Punjab Home Department.
In the first phase, they have taken control of 20 such seminaries that are being run by banned religious organisations, he said adding that the rest of the seminaries will also be taken over after due process.
Pervaiz Akhtar, Chief Executive Office of School Education — Government of Punjab, on Tuesday confirmed the takeover of religious schools run by banned outfits including Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM).
Akhtar clarified that the administrators’ role would be that of a supervisor.
“Neither any student is being expelled from these religious seminaries nor are we at present making any change in the education curriculum,” he said.
However, he added that the provincial government will take a decision in this regard very soon to streamline religious seminaries’ education and reform their curricula.
It was in March after the Pulwama incidents that the Punjab government took over administrative control of a religious seminary and mosque in Bahawalpur that was being run by militant Masood Azhar’s JeM.
In Karachi, the Sindh government also took over four religious seminaries run by Hafiz Saeed’s JuD.
India has blamed both Azhar and Saeed for acts of sabotage in its territory.
Later, the provincial cabinet, in a meeting chaired by the Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, decided to gain administrative control of these seminaries and institutes and allocate funds for the purpose in the upcoming budget for the new fiscal year.
According to a study conducted by Karachi-based research centre Majlis-e-Ilmi Foundation Pakistan, there are more than 37,517 religious seminaries of various schools of thought, and have more than 4.59 million students enrolled.