Pakistan Madrasa Taught Afghanistan’s Taliban Leaders

Pakistan Madrasa Taught Afghanistan’s Taliban Leaders
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Pakistan Madrasa Taught Afghanistan’s Taliban Leaders

Pakistan Madrasa Taught Afghanistan’s Taliban Leaders

Akora Khattak, Pakistan – The Taliban have taken over Afghanistan and this school cannot be proud.

Darul Uloom Haqqania Madrasa, one of the largest and oldest seminaries in Pakistan, has educated more Taliban leaders than any school in the world. Now his alumni hold key positions in Afghanistan.

Critics of the school call it the University of Jihad and blame it for helping to sow violence throughout the region for decades. And he worries that the Taliban’s victory could strengthen extremist madrassas and their affiliated Islamist groups, fueling more extremism in Pakistan despite the country’s efforts to bring more than 30,000 seminaries under government control.

The school says it has changed and argues that it should be given a chance to show that it has gone beyond its bloody path since the Taliban first ruled Afghanistan two decades ago.

“The world has seen his ability to run the country on a diplomatic front and on the battlefield,” said Rashidul Haque Sami, vice-chancellor of the seminar.

The wave of violence earlier this year, news of retaliation in the country, restrictions on girls’ access to school and restrictions on freedom of expression have not ruled out a softening of the Taliban. But Mr Sami argued that the Taliban’s takeover could be even more bloody, suggesting that they “would not repeat the mistakes of the 1990s.”

Darul Uloom Haqqania, about 60 miles from the Afghan border, has been a major influence there. Seminary alumni founded the Taliban movement and ruled Afghanistan in the 1990s. Pakistan’s powerful military often uses its leaders to influence the Taliban, experts say.

His late patriarch, Samiul Haq, who was assassinated in 2018 at his residence in Islamabad and was Mr. Sami’s father, was known as the “father of the Taliban.”

Azmat Abbas, author of “Madrasa Miraj: A Contemporary History of Islamic Schools in Pakistan,” said Azmat Abbas, “the alma mater of many Taliban leaders.”

Sirajuddin Haqqani, 41, who has led several Taliban military efforts and has a 5 million bounty on his head from the US government, is Afghanistan’s new caretaker interior minister and alumnus. New Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaki and Higher Education Minister Abdul Baki Haqqani are also in the list.

School administrators say the justice minister, the head of the Afghan Ministry of Water and Energy, and various governors, military commanders and judges also went through the Haqqania seminary.

“We are proud that our students in Afghanistan first broke up the Soviet Union and now sent packing to the United States,” Mr Sami said. “It is an honor for the madrassa that its graduates are now ministers and hold high positions in the Taliban government.”

Many alumni use the name Haqqani as a symbol of pride. The Haqqani Network – the Taliban’s military wing responsible for holding Americans hostage, carrying out complex suicide attacks and targeted killings – is named after the madrassa and maintains connections there.

More than 4,000 students, mostly from poor families, attend the spacious seminary of multi-storey concrete buildings in a small, riverside village east of Peshawar. They range from Quran memorization to Arabic literature.

During a recent visit, a scholar gave a lecture on Islamic jurisprudence in a packed hall of 1,500 final year students. He laughs at a coach’s joke. Other students lined up outside for lunch and played volleyball or cricket.

The victory of the Taliban is a matter of great pride.

“After nearly 20 years of fighting, the Taliban have finally defeated the United States and the whole world has accepted this fact,” said Abdul Wali, a 21-year-old student. “It also demonstrates the vision and commitment of our teachers and alumni to Afghanistan.”

Mr Wali praised Haqqania as a key place for memorizing the Quran, which some Muslims believe would give them and their families access to heaven. He said, “Haqqania is one of the few prestigious madrassas in the country where students consider it an honor to study because of its history, leading scholars and quality Islamic education.”

Pakistan has long had strained relations with madrassas like the Haqqanis. Leaders who once saw seminars as a way to influence events in Afghanistan now see them as a source of conflict in Pakistan. The country has its own Taliban movement, the Pakistani Taliban or TTP, which has been responsible for a number of violent attacks in recent years. This month saw a ceasefire on both sides.

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New signs of radicalism are emerging in madrassas, especially after the fall of Kabul. Students have staged pro-Taliban rallies. Taliban flags were hoisted near the girls’ madrassa at the site of a deadly attack by security forces on the Red Mosque in Islamabad 14 years ago.

Meanwhile, the usefulness of madrassas has diminished as Pakistani authorities have recently taken a more direct role in Afghanistan’s affairs, said Muhammad Israr Madani, a researcher focusing on religious issues in Islamabad.

Under those pressures, the Pakistani government has sought to reduce radicalism in madrassas by mixing financial support and behind-the-scenes.

The government of Prime Minister Imran Khan paid क्का 1.6 million for the Haqqania Seminary in 2018 and $ 1.7 million in 2017 to bring it “mainstream”. The funds helped the madrasa build a new building, a badminton court and other projects, including a computer lab.

Haqqania has expanded its curriculum to include English, math and computer science. It demands full documentation from foreign students, including students from Afghanistan, and administrators say they have adopted a zero-tolerance policy for anti-state actions.

Experts in the field of education in Pakistan say that these efforts have had some success, and that the Haqqanis do not condone terrorism as they once did.

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However, he said, the narrow meaning of Islam is taught in such madrassas. Lessons focus on how to argue with opposing religions rather than critical thinking, and stress on the implementation of practices such as stealing, punishment, including amputation, and stoning. As a result, some of their students become vulnerable to recruitment by extremist groups.

“In a climate of widespread support for the Taliban, both government and society, it would be naive to expect madrassas and other mainstream educational institutions to adopt a non-pro-education approach,” said Mr Abbas.

The school curriculum may be less effective than that of individual teachers.

“Whenever a madrassa student is found to be involved in violence, the madrassa system and its curriculum have a broad approach to blame for the disease and no attention is paid to the teacher or teachers who affect the student,” Mr Abbas said. .

Graduates who studied in Haqqania in the 1980s and 1990s said they did not receive any military training. However, some said that teachers often discuss jihad openly and encourage students to join the insurgency in Afghanistan. “Students can easily go to Afghanistan and fight during the seminary holidays,” said Ali. He requested that only his last name be used for security reasons.

Mr Sami, the vice-chancellor, said the students had neither been trained in combat nor committed to fighting in Afghanistan.

School administrators pointed to recent statements by some groups in Afghanistan as reflective medium teaching. After the Taliban took control of Kabul, the Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam-Sami party, founded by Mr. Sami’s father, called for the protection of the rights of Afghans and foreigners, especially diplomats, religious and ethnic minorities, and for women’s access. For higher education.

In any case, Mr. Sami said, the world has no choice but to believe in the Taliban’s ability to rule.

“I urge the international community to give the Taliban a chance to run the country,” he said. “If they are not allowed to work, there will be a new civil war in Afghanistan and it will affect the whole region.”

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