Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's latest attempt to curb Islamic militant groups and streamline religious seminaries promoting hatred has been welcomed, although few believe the move will succeed. In a televised speech last week, General Musharraf ordered a crackdown on banned militant organisations and vowed to register the country's more than 10,000 madrassas (Islamic schools) by December. The crackdown has come in the wake of the suicide bombings in London and amid reports at least three suicide bombers had visited Pakistan and attended radical Islamic schools. One political analyst says General Musharraf's latest move lacks sincerity and is doomed to failure. 'It is only aimed at diluting the mounting international pressure and will change nothing substantial on the ground,' said Hasan Askari Rizvi, based in Lahore. 'Such promises were made in the past, but with very little effect.' Three and a half years ago, in a similar high-profile pledge, General Musharraf said he would root out religious extremism, a promise that has largely remained unfulfilled. Most madrassas are still unregistered, their finances unregulated and the government has yet to remove the holy warrior and sectarian content from their curricula. Above all, most of the banned militant groups have managed to resurface, albeit under new names. Serving for centuries as a main source of learning in Islamic countries, madrassas in Pakistan mushroomed during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the 1980s. Funded by Saudi money and backed by the CIA and Pakistan's intelligence agencies, many of these madrassas were soon turned into recruitment centres for producing thousands of foot soldiers to fight the Russians in Afghanistan and later, the Indian security forces in Kashmir. At most madrassas, children are taught only about the Koran and fundamentalist Islam. This, critics argue, creates religious extremism and intolerance. 'They are socialised into believing the entire world, especially the west and the Jews, are undermining Islam and that they have to defend Islam against the onslaught,' Dr Rizvi said. Conservative Islamic groups have denounced the crackdown and accused General Musharraf of acting under American instructions. 'We will not allow him to take over the madrassas and make Pakistan a secular state,' warned Qazi Hussain Ahmed, the president of Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, an alliance of six major religious parties. The group governs North West Frontier province and Baluchistan, Pakistan's two key provinces and has remained at the forefront in challenging General Musharraf's policies which it considers to be extremely pro-US. Officials claim the process of streamlining religious schools and introducing modern subjects to their syllabus has begun and will be accelerated. They also point out Pakistan's role in fighting al-Qaeda and Taleban forces in tribal areas near the Afghan border. Since joining the US-led fight against terrorism in 2001, Pakistan has captured more than 700 foreign al-Qaeda militants. However, General Musharraf's failure to curb homegrown terrorism and reform the madrassas has raised new questions about his commitment on this vital issue. A recent report by the US Congressional Research Service noted that 'Musharraf's reluctance to enforce reform efforts is rooted in his desire to remain on good terms with Pakistan's Islamic political parties which are seen to be an important part of his political base'.