LAHORE: “It is significant to bear in mind that ‘Islamisation’ policies implemented during the Zia regime (1977-88) gave birth to the madrassa and mullah culture in Pakistan,” Professor Dr Nukhbah Taj Langah said in an exclusive interview with the Daily Times on Saturday. Dr Langah, who is Pakistan Seraiki Party president, opined that this was also the time when madrassas were established in this region to produce radical militant groups with international and local agendas in mind. Dr Langah believes that the government’s attitude towards the people of south Punjab is discriminatory “the second interconnected fact is that the imposition of budgetary, political, constitutional and electoral policies of the Punjab government ensures that people remain jobless and illiterate in this region; the crops and industry benefits are gained by Upper Punjab instead of those who work hard to create these resources.” Consequently, the increasing population, lack of education and lack of resources result in rural, uneducated people becoming attracted to madrassa culture mainly to feed their young children who cannot get a better life at home, she added. Dr Langah has received her Honors, Masters, and PhD from University of Buckingham, University of Warwick, and University of Leeds (UK), and belongs to the Seraiki area. She understands the working of seminaries, where according to her, children are brainwashed “through extremist literature produced by religious organisations and they turn out to become so-called ‘jihadis’ who later develop linkages with international terrorist organisations for training and missions.” Dr Langah was of the opinion that while political analysts and scholars (e.g. Ahmed K Majidyar) have debated that this region might eventually be taken over by Taliban (on the pattern of Swat or Waziristan); it can be argued that it depends on the flexibility and policy changes at constitutional and state level. If the region is given sufficient budget, and constitutional rights based on their ethno linguistic and political aspirations for a province within the federation of Pakistan, while also focusing on the eradication of madrassa culture and sectarian divisions, then there is a hope for progression (e.g. education, industry, development). Nevertheless being in the heart of the country, as a hub of natural resources and historic Indus valley civilization and Sufi culture, it is in the benefit of Pakistan to develop this region, she said “If the focus only remains on the development of Upper Punjab, as recently evident through the change of route for CPEC, then it will be impossible to confine the extremist tendencies within one specific region as it may spread and impact the entire Punjab and eventually, the rest of the country.” She asserted that it is time that we think of practical solutions and how we can implement them. “The debate about thriving extremism in South Punjab is futile unless we observe the roots of the cause, identify its severe consequences and think of practical prevention strategies,” said Dr Langah.