Pakistani’s sectarian militancy goes beyond border, Reaches Iraq

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Naimat Khan

KARACHI: As Pakistan is witnessing a surge in sectarian violence, reports claim a neighboring country is found actively involved in fueling sectarianism by brainwashing thousand of poor Pakistani Shia students studying in Iraq.

Highly credible sources said over two thousands Pakistani students belonging to Shia sect of Muslims are studying in different seminaries in Najaf city of Iraq and the number is likely to increase manifold if the trend goes unchecked. Sources said that not only the neighboring country is brainwashing the students against Sunnis but it is also recruiting potential agents among them.

The National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA), Islamabad dispatched a letter to Secretary Capital Administration, Islamabad, Secretaries religious affairs and foreign affairs, chairman HEC, home secretaries Punjab, Sindh, KPK and Balochistan, all provincial, capital police chiefs and IGP of AJ &K and Gilgit Baltistan on 13th of the last month, apprising them of off-putting development, which, the authority believes, will further split the religiously at odds Pakistani society.

“Over 2000 Pakistani Shia students are studying in Madaris of Najaf, Iraq, whose studies comprise 4-12 years”. Normally from Pakistan, the students go to Iraq on visit and Ziarat visas and then acquire admission in the Iraqi universities and Madaris, the report tells about the growing trend.

According to report, important of these Madaris, which are offering poor Pakistanis religious education with attractive financial packages, are Hawza Ilmiya Najaf Ashraf, headed by Ali al-Sistani and Hawza Ilmiyya Najaf headed by Ayatollah hafiz Bashir Hussain Najfi who is a Pakistani national.

According to reports another Madrassah at Najaf named Hawza Ilmiya Jamia-tul-Muntazar Najaf Ashraf is under construction which is being established by Allama Qazi Niaz Hussain Naqvi who is Mohtamim Ala Jamia Tu-Muntazar Lahore in Pakistan.

Officials in the authority say as heads of these Madaris, collectively called as Hawza-i-Ilmiya, Najaf Ashraf, are spiritually regarded very high by Shia all over the world and also acknowledged by Iraqi government they have the power to issue Iqama (resident permit) to any student.

Pakistani students mainly belong to poor family of Gilgit-Baltistan, KPK, Southern Punjab and Hazara Community (Balochistan) stated the report, adding instead of living jobless in Pakistan, they prefer to go for study in Iraq with families due to attractive financial packages starting from Rs 25,000 to Rs 50,000 for them and family members, respectively.

“Iraqi/Iranian missions in Pakistan are actively attracting Shia student desirous of studding in their countries”. Besides promoting Shiite school of thought, the Iranian intelligence agencies of a neighboring country are also carrying out recruitments of potential agents, report claimed.

Moreover UNICEF and some INGOs in collaboration with Iraqi Government are also executing number of education projects/Madaris in Iraq, where local/foreign students of a sect are receiving religious education”, well informed sources said.
During their stay in Iraq, students are brainwashed and motivated against Sunnis on sectarian lines and against Pakistani government for alleged killing of Shiite in Pakistan said the report, adding the number of such Pakistani students is likely to increase further if this practice continues unchecked.

The authority has urged upon the government of Pakistan to evolve a joint mechanism with Iraqi Government for streamlining of selection of students, their visa, study period and stay in Iraq.

The national counter terrorism authority has also suggested that in order to maintain a databank of all such students, issuance of NOC by ministry of education and Higher Education Commission (HEC) for all types of religious education abroad should be made mandatory.

It has also been advised to federal ministry of foreign affairs to register students with Pakistani mission in respective countries for maintaining record of their stay and movement.

The authority believes that if Pakistani embassy in Iraq identifies and recommends the Madaris in Iraq which are considered suitable for religious education for Pakistani students, this will be of great help in controlling the growing menace of sectarianism which proves detrimental for Pakistan.

The government of Pakistan is also being advised to establish a Madaris Welfare Authority under ministry of interior to regularize religious studies abroad. The authority also wants Shia Wifaq-ul-Madaris to be taken on board to devise a mechanism under which only their certified students are offered admission in foreign Madaris (Jamias)/Universities.

The last point in advisory of the authority is the sharing of list of selected students, teachers and staff with intelligence agencies for vetting and security clearance from sectarian point of view.

(Edited Version of this news story has published here )

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Author: Naimat

Karachi based journalist, writing on national and international issues.

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