Pakistan har ikke bare madrassaer for gutter. Kvinner sendes i stigende grad til madrassaer for å bli religiøse, og for å bevare dyden før de kan giftes bort.
Islamistene forstår at å investere i jenter kan være en vel så god investering: det er jentene som skal oppdra neste generasjon.
Rebecca Conway skriver for Reuters at Pakistan gjennomgår en økende islamisering og radikalisering, og det skjer blant middelklassen og overklassen.
Ca 250.000 kvinner går i de islamistiske seminarene. En av dem er 22 år gamle Varda som studerer regnskap.
In a nation where Muslim extremists are slowly strengthening their grip on society, the number of all-female madrassas has boomed over the past decade, fueled by the failures of the state education system and a deepening conservativism among the middle to upper classes.
Parents often encourage girls to enroll in madrassas after finishing high school or university, as an alternative to a shrinking, largely male-orientated job market, and to ensure a girl waiting to get married isn’t drawn into romantic relationships, says Masooda Bano, a research fellow at the British-based Economic and Social Research Council.
But, like Varda, many students at the 2,000 or so registered madrassas are university students or graduates looking for greater understanding of Islam, as well as housewives who, like others in Pakistani society, feel pressured to deepen their faith.
«I listened to what they said and I thought this is the correct thing to follow, and I wanted to learn more about my religion,» said Varda, who was encouraged by her neighbors to sign up to a part-time course at the Tehreek-i-Islami madrassa.
Asked about the killing of a governor earlier this year because he opposed the country’s controversial blasphemy law, Varda, without hesitation, said Salman Taseer’s murder by his own bodyguard was the right thing to do.
«If people … call themselves Muslims and they are members of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, then they should not be criticizing this law,» she said.
«I am sorry to say this, but this is what he deserved.»
Når de øverste klassene omfavner islamiseringen, blir det normen i samfunnet. Den aksepteres uten motforestillinger. Dermed ser man det absurde synet at advokater hyller drapet på Punjabs guvernør Salman Taseer. De som skulle forsvare loven hyller morderen.
Mens madrassaene for gutter i hovedsak rekrutterer blant fattige, er det et middelklassepreg over de kvinnelige.
Female madrassas charge a flat rate of 3,000-4,000 rupees a month – almost the price of a private college. Courses usually last four years and in addition to memorizing the Koran, the women study Islamic texts on morality and piety.
«There are serious problems related to these types of schools,» said Haider Mullick, policy analyst and fellow at the U.S. Joint Special Operations University in Florida. «Some of them will develop tolerance, but not participation, toward the sort of attacks or killings that we’ve seen.»
Al Huda, founded in the 1990s by Farhat Hashmi, is one of the most well-known female madrassas in the country, and most of its students hail from the middle and upper-class.
At the school’s vast new headquarters on the outskirts of Islamabad, students in black or grey robes walk past a colorful classroom where children take lessons, and through a sunlit lobby where leaflets explain aspects of Islam.
While precise numbers are not available, an estimated 15,000 students have gone through al Huda’s program, writes Faiza Mushtaq in the South Asia Multidisciplinary Journal.
Pakistans vei mot radikaliseringen ble institusjonalisert av militærdiktatoren Zia ul Haq.
Conway beskriver med få ord det sporet han slo inn på.
Pakistan, a politically unstable nuclear-armed country which al Qaeda and the Taliban also call home, has been drifting toward religious militancy since the 1980s under the rule of president General Mohammad Zia ul-Haq.
Zia, who enjoyed enthusiastic support from the United States against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, nurtured Islamist militants and used American cash to turn a society that had previously been moderate and tolerant toward hard-line Islam inspired by Saudi Wahhabism.
Weak governments over the ensuing years have not helped stem the radical tide, and anti-Americanism remains strong.