Pakistani banks freeze more than 210 seminary accounts
PESHAWAR (Pajhwok): Pakistani banks have frozen accounts of more than 200 religious schools in compliance with instructions from the central bank, a media report said on Monday.
The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has ordered the freeze to track sources of seminaries’ funding and choke terror financing under the National Action Plan, The Express Tribune reported.
Banks have stopped opening fresh accounts for seminaries before they are registered under a new mechanism introduced by the Religious Affairs Ministry, according to the newspaper.
An unnamed official of the ministry told the daily: “The seminaries have declined to reveal their funding sources or register under the new mechanism. This has complicated our task to monitor their accounts under the new policy.”
Some 211 suspicious accounts, mostly owned by individuals affiliated with the religious schools, had been frozen. The accounts held deposits worth Rs5 million.
Additionally, 32 unregistered seminaries, which are believed to be receiving foreign funding, have been sealed.
“A private bank refused to open my madrassa’s account. I have been waiting for seven months. But finally, I received a big ‘No’. My madrassa is registered,” said Abdul Qadoos Mohammadi, spokesman for Wafaq-ul-Madaris Pakistan.
He believed if the government allowed the religious schools to open accounts in their names, checking their sources of funding would become easier.
A team of the Ittehad-e-Tanzeemat-i-Madaris Pakistan (ITMP) is to meet the SBP governor on the issue soon. “If this issue is not resolved, representatives of seminaries will continue using accounts of people working for them.”
But the SBP spokesperson insisted the central bank’s instructions on opening a new account did not discriminate against any individual or organisation.
Abid Qamar said: “Anybody, including institutions and organisations, providing information mentioned in the SBP criterion, can get their accounts opened in any bank. We have a fair and open policy about it.”
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