Sunday, July 27, 2008

Karachi Kids II - Jamia Binoria and the American kids

Blacklisted Binoria students grapple with uncertain future.

Well, I've been waiting on pins and needles to hear what was going to happen to the Karachi Kids, both the ones just returned to their home in Atlanta and the ones still remaining at the Jamia Binoria. No news on them so far, but there is news of the BLACKLISTING of other foreign students. It looks like the foreign students at Jamia Binoria are now having visa problems as a result of the government's committment to Musharraf's Madrassa controls and is it me or does it sound like the situation may be a tad chaotic, to you?

“The deportation orders have alarmed other international students as well at the Jamia,” reveals one of the officials at the Jamia Binoria on the condition of anonymity. The source reveals that, since the deportation orders, students throng the office of the head of the Jamia Binoria, Maulana Mufti Muhammad Naeem, everyday asking him about their visa status in Pakistan. “A lot of them are so scared that they have planned to return to their home countries for good,” an official reveals, adding that, besides frequent visits by media persons and agencies demanding complete information about these kids, international reaction to the documentary “Karachi Kids” has added to the concerns of international students at the seminary.

Another anonymous student comes forward:

A former student of a Madrassa in Karachi admits it. On condition of anonymity, he says that, despite a ban, hundreds of students from around the world travel to Pakistan in quest of religious knowledge. Earlier, funded by the US government during the war against Soviet Union in the 1980s, Madrassahs in Pakistan were regarded as the best institutes for religious knowledge. However, with the US-launched war against terror and seminaries in Pakistan allegedly having links with the Taliban, foreign students have been banned admissions here.

“Therefore,” he says, “when they don’t find a legal way to get in, they resort to the illegal ways.” These ‘illegal ways’ can entail, among other things, first arriving on a visit visa and then a Madrassah using its influence and contacts to get an extension. This can also allegedly include, “bribing the concerned officials,” adds a travel agent. Sometimes, a seminary doesn’t even bother to resort to these tricks and lets the student study even after the expiry of the visit visa. The student then pays an over stay fee and is deported to their home country after completion of the degree.

The Jamia Binoria doesn’t confirm this and claims that, “the Federal Secretary Interior Kamal Shah promised to grant extension soon.” However, Kamal Shah could not be reached for comments owing to his busy schedule.

Evidently, this isn't the first time that visas have been an issue for Jamia Biniora students.

Read the rest

Read more about the Karachi Kids here and check out Bernie Kerik as he weighs in.

Stay tuned, possums...