The vast majority (70 percent) of Pakistan’s population is rural. Tragically, most of rural Pakistanis have to live a substandard lifestyle. Overpopulation and weak democratic structure stand out as the chief reasons of poverty and illiteracy in the country. Over 50 percent of Pakistanis live below the poverty line; deprived of basic rights and necessities. Poverty and behavioural-cum-moral corruption standout as the main reasons for the country’s low literacy rate (55 percent).Pakistan has three kinds of formal educational institutions: public sector, private sector and religious seminaries. It is estimated that the enrolment in the public, private and religious institutions is respectively 70, 28 and two percent. Furthermore, the private sector entertains only two percent of the upper class population’seducation in elite institutes because of how expensive it is. For the poorest Pakistanis, the Madarisare the go-to for their children’s education. This is particularly true in the interiors of the four provinces as well as the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Affordability is not the only factor here as many people from these areas believe that religious education is a necessity for salvation in the afterlife. Enrolment in seminaries is significantly higher in rural areas than urban.During the Zia era there were approximately 35,000 Madarisin the country with 4 million children enrolled in them. According to reports published from 1988 to 2002, around 10,000 seminaries were established in this period out of which 7000 were Deobandi and 1585 were Barelvi. 12,000 to 14,000 madaris are not registered with the authorities, and are likely breeding grounds for radicalism and terrorismIn 1998,there were 160,000 madrasas. Now in Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Balochistan there are 15000, 7000, 3000 and 10,000 madrasas respectively. Around 4 percent of the total students of Pakistan are enrolled in these seminaries. There are around 1000 madrasas with more than 200,000 students in Karachi alone. 12,000 to 14,000 Madaris are not registered with the authorities, and are likely breeding grounds for radicalism and terrorism. A significant amount of arrested terrorists are found to either be clerics or former Madrassah students.According to the reports, around 3080 incidents of sectarian violence have occurred respectively from 1989 to 2018. Moreover, the growing street power of radicalised seminaries is also growing and causing increased apprehension among the people. These Madrassah radicals also have their own rigid interpretations of religion, making Islam difficult to practice. They are generating fear in the name of God but not love among the common masses and students. Furthermore, as every seminary belongs to a certain religious school of thought, ultimately the students of madrasas only represent that specific school of thought but not “Islam” comprehensively. This is hazardous for religious harmony and integration among Pakistanis.Additionally, many of the Qarisat these seminaries use reprehensible forms of corporal punishment, torturing students both physically and mentally. A rational mindset cannot develop in students groomed in this kind of culture. Sexual abuse, militant training and fundamentalist syllabus of certain madrasas are serious issues that must be addressed Undoubtedly, not all seminaries are involved in sectarianism, extremism and militancy but several madrasas and madrasa students have an undeniable attraction towards religious fanaticism. In this regard, the government must monitor the educational environment, curriculum, syllabus and the activities of the madrasa teachers. Commonly, the madrasas are non-government institutions; they are generating their funds in their relevant capacities from different known and unknown resources. The funding resources must be recognised assuring to provide the record of their appropriate funding bodies.In elections, religious leaders use their madrasa students for political drives to multiply the vote bank. Moreover, the leaderships of religious-political parties like jamiyat Ulema-i- Islam, Ahl-i-Hadith and Jama-e- Islami also utilize madrasa students in their open meetings and conferences and gatherings to display their political muscles, which is against the integrity of religious institutions. In their speeches, these so called Mullahs provoke madrasa students against their religious or political rivals. Its worst examples are the activities and the dharnas of the Tahrik Labaik Ya Rasoolullah (TLYR) and Pakistan Awami Tahrik of Tahir-ul-Qadari (PAT). The registration of the un-registered madrasas is essential.In this regard, a specific council or body should be formed by the federal governmentto regularise and reform the madrasa education. Moreover, this suggested body should also be responsible for forming and implementing the official conduct and the proper practices of academic privileges of the country’s seminaries.The cure to extremism and fundamentalism lies in true and ethical religious education.The writer can be reached at email@example.comPublished in Daily Times, February 1st 2019.