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Keeping watch: G-B seminaries to come under close scrutiny

BY Shabbir Mir

GILGIT: In a bid to root out extremism and maintain peace, the Gilgit-Baltistan government has decided to audit financial matters of seminaries operating in the region.

The initiative is aimed at implementing the National Action Plan (NAP) which is devised to curb terrorist activities from Pakistan.

Insiders told The Express Tribune the decision was taken at a high-level meeting held in G-B on Saturday. A government official requesting anonymity said, “There are 162 registered madrassas in the region which have been receiving financial assistance from various sources over the years.” He said, “Accounts of these seminaries will be audited to make sure funding isn’t spent on terrorist activities.”

Schedule-IV ATA

Security agencies have listed at least 50 clerics as a “threat to the region’s peace”. “The government is thinking of listing those clerics under schedule 4 [of the anti-terrorism act],” said another official.

In addition, the government has also decided to issue notices to clerics involved in hate speech.  There are certain clerics who have recently been found delivering speeches—especially at Friday sermons—which could escalate sectarianism among the public.

“If these clerics don’t refrain from making such speeches, they would be dealt with according to the NAP,” said the official.

The fourth schedule is a section of the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 under which someone who is suspected of terrorism is kept under observation; it is mandatory for her or him to check in with the local police regularly.

Airport security

The federal government has asked the G-B government to tighten security at airports.  “The step has been taken in view of threats from the terrorists,” said an official, referring to a letter sent from the National Crisis Management Cell Islamabad to the G-B government.

The G-B government has been asked to ensure foolproof security in the area, he added.

Talking to journalists, Minister for Information Ibrahim Sani said peace was essential for development reforms initiated by the G-B government in the region. “Peace is our top priority and the society must help us by discouraging troublemakers,” he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 10th, 2016.

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