When the government put forth the National Action Plan at the beginning of the year, the nation breathed a sigh of relief. Finally something was going to be done about those seminaries that were acting as incubators of extremism and breeding grounds for terrorists. Sadly, nothing has been done. The powers that be have been busy cracking down on secular political parties that may or may not have some members involved in petty crimes while completely ignoring the factories producing terrorists who continue to wage war against us. However, these are not the only priorities that need to be reevaluated. Madrassah reform remains a necessary action, but unfortunately we have a much bigger problem now as the extremist ideology is not only being propagated in unregulated seminaries but also in our universities.
The latest evidence is the arrest of Szabist professor Muhammad Owais Raheel for links with the banned group Hizbut Tahrir. While investigating his case, authorities found a vast network of militants has infiltrated prestigious schools and is recruiting the best and brightest for jihad.
Actually, this is not new information to anyone who has been paying attention to what is going on behind the patriotic smokescreen being projected these days. Saad Aziz, the terrorist behind the murder of Sabeen Mahmud and other attacks was a respected graduate of IBA. He wasn’t the only one. A group of IBA students was secretly publishing jihadi propaganda designed specifically to appeal to university students.
In the year 2013, around eight ‘like-minded’ IBA graduates from the 2010 and 2011 batches began publishing an online magazine, titled ‘Al Rashideen’ [The Rightly Guided] in English.
Saad, who had expertise in producing different kind of pro-al Qaeda and Taliban media, was a part of its editorial team. “We present you this first issue of Al Rashideen,” he wrote under the screen-name ‘the editor’s desk’.
“We hope this to be a platform where relevant issues facing the Ummah are studied and analysed upon by students of colleges and universities, and Muslim youngsters whose first or second language is English.”
They were not the only ones. Jihadi militant groups have been targeting university students for years.
It is essential to the national security that the National Action Plan be taken off the shelf and put into action. Taking action against unregulated madrassahs and those teaching extremist ideology or militancy is long overdue. Just as we cannot defeat the threat of terrorism if we continue ignoring the madrassah problem, though, we cannot win if we continue to hide our heads in the sand and ignore the jihadi extremism spreading in our prestigious schools also.