EDITORIALS OF MAJOR Indian and Pakistani newspapers today chew over Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's renewed pledge to reform his nation's madrasas. A belief that some of the 7/7 London bombers attended these religious schools has again placed the spotlight on them.
An editorial today in the Daily Times of Lahore is dubious of government statistics -- no one knows how many madrasas operate in Pakistan, but most estimates range from 11,000 to 30,000, far exceeding the 6,148 officially registered ones. Part of Musharraf's plan involves expelling foreign madrasa students, mostly Afghans. The Hindu, a Madras-based left-leaning paper that circulates throughout India, supports this step. But across the border, the Daily Times and the clumsily rightist Pakistan Observer, based in Islamabad, note how entrenched the Afghan refugee population has become in Pakistan. What none of the papers mention is that the 7/7 bombers were of Pakistani descent, not Afghan refugees.
The Hindu sides with many Pakistani leaders in claiming that not all madrasas breed terrorists.
On the nuclear front, the Bombay-based Indian Express editorializes today that although the U.S. tacitly recognized India as a "responsible" nuclear power, India needs to foster a more stable nuclear relationship with Pakistan. An editorial in Dawn, based in Karachi, wondered if the Indian-U.S. nuclear accord hadn't emboldened the U.S. to increase its "gratuitous" pestering of Pakistan to democratize.