Children at the Madrassa Zakariya, 5 days after the Raid
An unannounced visit to any of Pakistan’s Government Hospital’s will explain without doubt, why there are thousands of Quacks, Spiritual Healers, Pirs, and so called Gifted Individuals playing with the lives of millions in Pakistan.
A Sindh Police raid on the 12th of December at a Madrassa in Sorabh Goth, freed dozens of boys and young men, who were until then being subjected to gross Human Rights Violations – under the pretext that they were being Cured.
Those freed, claimed to be locked up for various reasons. Some for being supposedly possessed, while others for drug addictions. Most had been brought to the ‘Isla’hi Markaz’ or Correctional Center, by their Parents, to be Cured (or fixed).
During the Media Frenzy that Monday night, conflicting stories of Taliban visit’s and Militant training, Beatings and brutal living conditions resonated on TV sets, from Islamabad to Karachi & beyond.
“My father took me to several spiritual healers who said I was a victim of black magic,” claimed Azmat Ulla, speaking to AFP.
The reason such ‘Isla’hi Marakiz’ exist, is because they provide a cheaper alternative for Pakistan’s poorest – taking care of those with learning difficulties, mental illness & drug problems – than having to lock up the patient or care for him, at home.
Religious seminaries – attached to mosques – are the only schools & sometimes permanent shelters for the poorest children. It is estimated that two million boys are educated in Pakistan’s 15,000+ madrassa’s.
It was now Friday, 5 days had passed since the Police raided Madrassa Zakariya but to my surprise, Wali Muhammad the crying 6 year old whose face was carried by many global publications (and was aired to millions of households), was still at the Madrassa.
Traumatized by Monday’s events Wali Muhammad became hysterical when he saw the Policemen accompanying me. It took a lot of talking before he finally calmed down and smiled for a picture.
When he spoke, he did not describe the madrassa as a Chamber of Torture, where he was being held against his will. Instead he seemed, quite at home. He wasn’t alone either, about a dozen young boys crowded around us when the Police had stepped away.
The temporary Headmaster of the madrassa Mufti Amin Jaan argued, that local news channels had done a great disservice to Pakistan. He said he was sad, that now the world was talking about Pakistan, about how young boys were being indoctrinated for Jihad, when it was not true.
"Curse Upon the Liars - Area Residents"
The local SHO gave credence to the story. According to him, no militant traces were found from the premises, no literature of any kind – which is the norm – instead the only texts found at the madrassa were copies of the Holy Quran, and Ahadees of the Prophet (PBUH).
While Mufti Amin Jaan argued that the ‘Isla’hi Markaz’ was a seperate entity from the madrassa; where regular lessons were conducted, and no body was locked up. His defense does not remove the scars that Wali Muhammad and dozens of other young children will live with for years to come, having seen others locked up like animals.
The sad part is, countless more will experience first hand or witness similar brutality that was practiced at Madrassa Zakariya by Mufti Dawood.
It will take nothing short of a miracle before Pakistan can provide state care for those in the grip of drug addiction, evil spirits or muscle spasms. Until then, the locking up of those “in need of medical attention” will continue; and many Mufti Dawood’s will provide ‘Isla’hi Marakiz’ like the Chamber of Torture seen on TV.
Confined in Chains, the Future of Pakistan is Dark. Without them, it may be Darker.