ISLAMABAD: The Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) and Ittehad-e-Tanzimat-e-Madaris-e-Dinya (ITMD) on Sunday pledged to resist any government move to expel foreigners studying at religious seminaries in Pakistan and amendments in the seminaries’ curricula. Speaking at the Ulema Convention organised by the ITMD at Jamia Muhammadia, various religious leaders asked clerics not to shy arrest if police came to nab them. The speakers said they would not allow the government to deport foreign students. “It is the right of every student to study in a free atmosphere, especially when he has valid documents and a visa,” stated a communiqué read out by ITMD Secretary General Dr Sarfaraz Naeemi during the convention. The communiqué also demanded the government allow foreign students to complete their studies and also allow the new students to come to Pakistan to get religious education. It said the government should not politicise the issue of degrees awarded by religious seminaries and urged it (the government) to give the status of an examination board to the various wafaqs (seminary boards). It also said the ulema would start protesting on university and college campuses if the government amended the curricula of religious education. The ITMD would hold ulema conventions at the provincial and district levels on the expulsion of foreign students, the communiqué said, adding that the first convention would be held on January 25 in Karachi and the second on February 15 in Lahore. Conventions at the district level would start immediately, it added. Maulana Fazlur Rehman, leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, said the MMA and ITMD would fight together to defend the curricula and foreign students issues. “The MMA and ITMD will hold conventions and demonstrations to defend seminaries and will transport people from across the country to Islamabad if needed,” he added. The rulers’ decisions were false, unconstitutional and undemocratic and they (rulers) should withdraw their decisions or prepare themselves to face resistance, Fazl said, adding that the government was also amending the curricula of conventional education and deleting the method of prayer from the Islamiyat subject, but religious leaders would not allow the government to do so. He warned the western world that its clash with seminaries would be disastrous. He said General Pervez Musharraf was himself an extremist, as he had adopted extremist polices. Earlier, ITMD central leader Qari Hanif Jallandhry said the ittehad would continue struggling against the government till the latter withdrew its decision. He said the ITMD would not send any foreign student back to their home countries. Maulana Samiul Haq, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Sami chief, said seminaries would defend the Islamic system of education. He said education was a basic and fundamental right of every human being. AP adds: The ulema’s warning came just days after the government appeared to back away from its December 31 deadline for foreigners at religious seminaries – long considered breeding grounds for militants – to return to their home countries. In July, Musharraf ordered all foreign students at seminaries to leave Pakistan by the end of the year or face expulsion, in response to reports that at least one of the suicide bombers who attacked the London transport system in July had visited a Pakistani seminary with known militant links. On Thursday, Interior Minister Aftab Khan Sherpao denied that the foreign students were being forced out of the country by yearend. “There is no deadline for it,” he told the private Geo TV network. Musharraf has urged the seminaries to teach modern subjects and to register with the government, in a bid to bring them under state control. There are 13,500 seminaries many of which operate on funds provided by private donors.