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Pak pressure on madarsas
- States amend laws

Islamabad, Aug. 16: The governments of Sindh and Baluchistan provinces in Pakistan have amended local laws making the registration of madarsas and an annual audit of their accounts compulsory.

The amended laws were announced by the governors of Sindh and Baluchistan amid strong criticism from Islamist parties over last months crackdown on 11,000 madarsas. The laws recommend strong punishment for madarsas teaching or publishing any literature which promotes militancy or spreads religious hatred.

Analysts say that the amended laws will spark criticism from hardliners headed by the six-party religious alliance, the Muttahida Majlis-e-Ammal (MMA). According to the MMA, the crackdown on the madarsas is an attempt by the Pakistan government to appease the US.

Speaking to the media after announcing the laws, the governor of Sindh Ishratul Ibad said: We will not allow any religious institution to operate in the province without registration. He said all madarsas will have to submit annual reports to the concerned officials.

Election bar

The Pakistan Supreme Court today barred candidates who only have madarsa degrees from contesting local elections. It said candidates who do not have certificates in English, Urdu and Pakistan studies were not eligible to contest the polls.

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