Pakistani plan to expel foreign madrassa students cancelled
As Pakistan's religious parties continue their campaign against president Pervez Musharraf, the government appears to have retreated from its original plan to expel all foreign students from the country's madrassas or Islamic seminaries. The decision was made after Musharraf met the leaders of Islamic seminaries two weeks ago and decision to back-track on the original 31 December deadline for expulsion, was announced this week.

After the London bombings in July, when it was confirmed that two of the suicide bombers had travelled to Pakistan before the attacks and one of them was also shown to have visited a Pakistani madrassa, Musharraf said that all foreign students in the madrassas, some 1400 of them, had to leave the country by the end of 2005. However the 31 December deadline came and went and the issue had been put on the back burner until this latest decision.

The president of the Sharia Education Board, Maulana Hanif Janlidari, told Adnkronos International (AKI) that 700 students of the 1400 foreign students in the Pakistani madrassas left Pakistan on their own will when the government intially announced the ban last year. The rest are still in the madrassas. However, sources have also told AKI that the foreign students who live in the registered madrassas located in Pakistan's cities do not pose any problems for the internal security of the country as local security agencies keep a vigilant eye on their activities and movements as well as their documents. The real problem lies in the unregistered madrassas, particularly those in the rural areas of Pakistan's North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and the south-western province of Baluchistan.
Posted by: Dan Darling 2006-03-12