There are around 12,000 registered madrasas across Pakistan. The registered ones belonging to the Debandi school of thought work under their own educational board, known as Wafaq-ul Madaras Al Arabia Pakistan, with their own syllabus and examinations parallel to government educational system.
According to some estimates, there are around 1,700 registered small and big madrasas in Karachi and as many unregistered and unregulated ones. The madrasas also offer free boarding and lodging along with Islamic education for poor students coming from far-flung areas.
Razzaq himself had studied at a madrasa while he was in his teens and then worked in various madrasas doing petty jobs in the administration. He lived close to Khan's neighborhood and would regularly visit the same unregulated madrasa-cum-mosque where Khan studied.
Khan says he remembers Razzaq's charm well.
“I would start interacting with him almost every day at the madrasa,” says Khan. “He would tell me about the jihad, and hand over booklets glorifying mujahideen’s victories against infidels. Slowly and gradually, I got sucked into it and started believing that the biggest aim in life is jihad. Now I realize that it was wrong.”
He says he remembers the militant commander telling the madrasa boys that “everybody lives for worldly life, but those who choose to live for the hereafter are the most sacred.” It was exciting and radical and seemed to make sense at the time.
The closer he was getting to the Taliban local commander, the more he was drifting away from his usual lifestyle. “I stopped going to play football. My friends changed. I stopped asking for extra pocket money to play video games,” he recalls. The change in behavior infuriated his mother.
One day, Khan had an argument with her about focusing more on his studies at school and less on the madrasa. Fuming, Khan went to the madrasa that day in spite of his mother and sat in a corner to sulk.