ISLAMABAD: The government and seminary reps yesterday agreed that all religious schools would make transactions through banks to bring transparency into fundings.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif headed the second phase while interior minister himself headed the first. Army Chief of General Raheel Sharif, ISI DG Lt Gen Razwan Akhtar, Religious Affairs Minister Sardar Yousaf and State Minister of Education Baleegur Rehman were prominent participants of the meeting besides representatives of Ittehad-e-Tanzeemul Madaris, a group of religious schools.

“The government has agreed that madrasas should be allowed to open bank accounts and make transactions through banks,” Nisar told the media after meeting.

Abid Qamar, chief spokesperson for SBP told a newspaper that any individual, institution or organisation providing information as per the set criteria of the SBP could easily get their accounts opened. Around 211 suspicious accounts, mostly owned by individuals affiliated with seminaries, had been frozen across the country under.

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The interior minister said the government and seminary reps would hold a meeting with State Bank of Pakistan and finance ministry to settle the issue of opening of bank accounts.

The hurdle took place after a standoff between the two over the State Bank of Pakistan’s directives for freezing more than 200 bank accounts linked to seminaries last week.

He informed that the meeting agreed that religious seminaries would hold audit of their accounts while the government would formulate a mechanism to monitor their foreign funding. “The seminaries, in conformity with the law, will present information relating to their audit of their expenditure,” said Nisar.

Previously, all banks had stopped opening fresh accounts of seminaries following failure of madrasas is bodies to agree on a mechanism for their registration with government. Madrasa reforms was one of the 20 points of National Action Plan (NAP) on Counter Terrorism announced in December last year after army public school attack but the government could not make any progress on this point due to certain reasons.

Nisar said the meeting was to bring reforms under NAP.

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“A comprehensive policy framework would be given after September 10 meeting called by the federal government in which all four provincial chief ministers of have been invited,” he said adding that COAS and the heads of all intelligence agencies had also been invited. The PM would approve policy framework in final round of September 10 meeting.

Nisar said that ITM had agreed with the government’s stance of registration of madras. A committees having representatives of ITM and departments concerned headed by secretary interior has been formed to finalise a registration form of seminaries,” he said adding that the committee had been asked to complete the task within three months.

The minister said that another committee had been formed comprising of federal as well as provincial authorities of education ministries and ITM to bring reforms in curriculum. The seminaries’ body has agreed to include modern subjects in its syllabus including of O-Level and A-level. Around 3 million students are studying in 18,000 religious schools of the main representative body, he said.

He said that alumni of reputed universities were found in Safoora carnage in Karachi and to blame seminaries behind terrorism was unfair. He said that madrasas body had invited media, diplomats, and politicians to visit and point out loopholes.

Earlier, Nawaz said the government was steadily implementing NAP.

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The PM said army chief was also there to be part of the consultation. He assured the Ulema that government is ready to help them for introducing reforms in the education system of madras.

Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani, Muhammad Hanif Jalandhry, Mufti Muneeb-ur-Rehman, Sahibzada Abdul Mustafa Hazarvi, Prof Sajid Mir, Yasin Zafar, Abdul Malik, Dr Attaur Rehman, Syed Qazi Niaz Naqvi , and Dr Syed Muhammad Najfi participated in the meeting.