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Pak madrassas vow not to throw out students

A coalition of Islamic schools in Pakistan vowed to resist a Govt plan to deport their foreign students, calling the proposal "immoral".

world Updated: Jan 02, 2006 12:37 IST
Associated Press
Associated Press

A coalition of Islamic schools in Pakistan vowed on Sunday to resist a government plan to deport their foreign students, calling the proposal "immoral."

The warning came just days after the government appeared to back away from its December 31 deadline for foreign students at Pakistani Islamic schools-- long considered breeding grounds for militants -- to return to their home countries.

About 200 clerics and their supporters from some 12,000 Islamic seminaries or madrassas, known as the Coalition of Administrators of Religious Schools in Pakistan, met in the capital Islamabad on Sunday to oppose the foreign student expulsion plan.

"The convention expressed concern over the harassment of madrassas over (the issue of) foreign students and decided that no student will be returned," the coalition said in a statement after the meeting.

"Every student has the right to get education in an atmosphere of freedom, especially when he has all complete legal documents," it said.

The clerics called the government's proposed steps against foreign students "inhuman, immoral and totally illegal." In July, President Gen Pervez Musharraf ordered all foreign Islamic students to leave the country by the end of the year or face expulsion, in response to reports that at least one of the suicide bombers who attacked the London transport system in July had visited a Pakistani madrassa with known militant links.

On Thursday, Interior Minister Aftab Khan denied that the foreign students were being forced out of the country by yearend. "There is no deadline for it," he told the private Geo TV network.

Musharraf has urged the seminaries to teach modern subjects and to register with the government, in a bid to bring them under state control.

There are 13,500 Islamic seminaries many of which operate on funds provided by private donors. They provide free schooling and board to at least 1.1 million students, many from poor families.

First Published: Jan 02, 2006 12:37 IST