The federal government has rightly decided to introduce Madrassa reforms aimed at bringing the Madaris into alignment with mainstream education, as well as tackling issues of radicalization and terrorism rooted in the largely unregulated network of religious schools.

According to officials, the ‘rough estimate’ suggests that the number of Madaris operating in the country lies between 10,000 and 20,000, 500 of which are allegedly involved in preaching extremism, while accepting funds from donors abroad.

The students of these ‘schools’, in most cases, belong to underprivileged families facing a serious lack of alternatives. The Madaris, unlike state-run schools, provide free religious education, free food and even free accommodation – a very attractive package, for parents struggling to provide for their children.

In recent years, Pakistan has experienced several instances highlighting the involvement of Madrassa students in acts of violence and terrorism. Be it the killings of prominent religious leaders, a plot to assassinate Pervez Musharraf, or the horrifying surge of sectarian violence, investigations often point in the same direction.

It is not a secret that the funding from foreign donors, who must be given credit for noticing the abundance of young talent in the country, has greatly contributed to the polarization of society. Resultantly, Pakistan has become the unfortunate poster child of sectarian proxy wars. The government, if it seeks peace and stability, must track and stop the inflow of money and provocative literature at all costs.

There should be no doubt that every child in Pakistan has a right to an education. But the necessity to study conventional subjects, such as mathematics, literature, art and science cannot be dismissed by replacing traditional schooling with a purely religious syllabus.

Therefore, a comprehensive revision of the curriculum, which ensures the removal of the deeply-entrenched extremist ideology, as well as the incorporation of mainstream education, is fundamental to prevent further damage to the future of our younger generation, and to safeguard their place as citizens of the world.